WRITING ABOUT WRITING: Hexagram 5

Writing a screenplay is a most interesting and challenging process. I am teaching myself how to do it as I go along. It is a challenge on many levels – it’s damn hard. It is an epic adventure with iconic figures and mythological metaphors set in a distant past. It is a hero’s journey and my own hero’s journey at the same time.

I often do Yi readings to get myself going, or inspire images about a scene, or look for character clues, or to give me clarity on where I am in the process, or all of these things and more. Lately I have been experiencing obstacles. The direction that I was heading, the work I had produced, was not working. I cut away a great deal, which was painful enough, but I could not seem to get going on new ideas. The inner critic was taking over. The writing was not fun anymore. I knew I had to come at it a different way.

My focus: ‘Activating the right brain, writing something, and silencing the inner critic’
The Yi answered: Hexagram 5 / line 6

This felt like a relief to me right away. Waiting patiently and in comfort is what came to mind. Hexagram 5 with its comfortable waiting is nestled safely between the awkward unknown of hexagram 4 and the argumentative conflict of hexagram 6. I am somewhere between learning it and fighting it. There’s no resistance, but I haven’t quite got it yet. It’s a relaxed waiting game. The trick is to use the interval with a good attitude, with faith that things will change.

Heaven’s yang lines inside look like a little house below the falling rain. Safe inside is the creative, bold and solid, where the creative manifestations can wait it out. I have a story in me, I just don’t know yet how to get it out and in the format required. I have the blueprint, the foundation and structure. It can be built and made to stand. Outside is the flowing stream. The story content and the challenges bring emotional white water. I toil through the difficulty and troubles.

I have a fierce inner critic, and the writing process has brought me face to face with it. Sure I need that left brain for editing, following a calendar, and showing up to work. But it had taken over like a tyrant. It was not allowing my right brain to come out and play, discover and have fun. My child-like right brain cares nothing about edits, time, or work.

Hexagram 5 feels like a snow day, where I don’t have to go to school. I get to build snowmen and drink hot chocolate. Or, hexagram 5 feels like a rainy weekend where outside work can wait. Instead, I get to stay inside, and watch the rain while I have a tea party. It’s a glad waiting – a kind of relief from the usual. I know I’ll go back to it, but for now it’s time to relax and play.

Hexagram 5 reminds me of when I’m waiting for something to finish cooking. It’s a fun time, where I get to sit a minute and have a snack while waiting for the big pay-off. It occurred to me that I would do better to approach writing the way I approach cooking. I can break a large project into smaller parts, like meals. I am not a recipe follower, but I am careful to purchase quality, organic, ingredients. I allow the available ingredients to give me ideas for the upcoming meals. I can think of writing scenes in a similar way, by picking some elements that I know I want to use, and try them out. When I am cooking, I am fully immersed in the process, seeing the colors, smelling the aromas, feeling the flesh and oils, combining and tasting. It is a sensory delight. It is an alchemical transformation. In the same way I can imagine how all of my senses are experiencing what I am writing. When I cook, I never worry about it or think I am doing it wrong or fret about how to do it. I experiment and look up things as I go. I especially need to apply this to writing. Most meals come out pretty good, some things are great, and fairly often they turn out exceptionally. Every once in a while I fail, but it is inconsequential, and then I learn from it. All cooking experiences build on each other and lead to more delicious meals that improve. These are important lessons to apply to my writing process.

Line 6 is up there on the precipice of change, above the ruler, hanging out on its own. The writer is like this too: in it, but not of it. It is a mostly solo journey in a room with invisible people. A river can start from a hole in the ground (a pit or cave). The Chattahoochee River, here in Georgia, starts that way. It begins as a trickle from a hole in the ground; it then becomes a stream, and then a wide river. It flows through Atlanta where people ride on rafts tethered to coolers of beer on inner tubes as they ‘shoot the Hooch.’ From there it takes on factory pollution and can’t be entered. This is another kind of pit, a dark place, an unexpected turn of events. But it keeps on going, all the way to the Gulf of Mexico.

The top line is on the outer edge of a white water stream. But the stream is taking shape by following a boundary where the yin line closes to yang. It could be a place where interaction can more easily occur. Something could be built there, like a dock, where others would come as guests. Perhaps these guests are new characters to discover for the story, or teachers that bring inspiration or the guests are the ideas themselves. If I welcome the unexpected as a gift, then the synchronicities and metaphors will reveal themselves. All is not lost.

Line 6 moving would change the top trigram to wind. The attributes of wind can help balance the trigram of water. I can follow my curiosity, take things step by step, and cultivate the willingness to work on things over a long period of time. I practice right brain exercises; I write and sketch in my journal; I listen to teachers about writing; I stretch, I dance and I cook. It feels like coming at the problem sideways, out of the corner of my eye or sneaking up on it. It is the reason I am writing this blog post. These ideas lead nicely into hexagram 9, with more images of waiting on the weather, but continuing to work on what is possible.

The inner nuclear trigrams are lake enveloping lake. The source of joy is being submerged or not being fed. Even optimism and hope are drowned out. The enveloping lake is drowning with naiveté, and reflecting the problem back on the surface. It is more overwhelming than inspiring. That inner lake of joy needs to be fed properly – with more joy. The outer nuclear trigrams are fire enveloped by lake. It is the very image of passion and clarity being submerged by superficiality that is naïve. I need to stoke that inner fire and keep the spark alive.

Part of my process for activating the right brain, writing something, and silencing the inner critic is this blog post. It’s super Meta – writing about writing. It’s a way to wait while also nourishing myself in something fun and joyful. I am allowing the confidence and faith to return as I watch and wait for the unexpected guests to arrive.