If you’re a writer or artist, have you had the sensation of seeing your work through others’ eyes? Did you gain a better understanding of your work after hearing others’ input?

I know this is true for me. No — this is not a cop out. I’ve never been one of those writers who inherently can describe (well) what I’m writing about. Perhaps that will get easier over time. For now, I am hugely grateful for reviewers, and my friends, who have helped me start to understand what I do. You can read review comments for My Heart is a Mountain in my FAQ. But friends’ comments have been just as insightful: “You have compassion for your characters.” “I want to read these stories again; they stick with me and I want to get more from them.” “Your characters have a very strong will.” etc.

Obvious as themes in My Heart is a Mountain may seem now, I don’t think I fully understood them until I’d read a few reviews of my book:

  • Land as part of Being
  • Land as part of our beings
  • Land as a Being; a real, live phenomenon
  • Connection to Land or to Place

The themes are no surprise. I do believe that Land is part of us; that we are part of Land. If we abuse the land, we are abusing ourselves. If we respect and find connection to the land, we are finding a deeper understanding of ourselves.

Think about this. It’s simple to say. It’s deeper than it sounds.

Will I write about this forever? I dunno. I prefer to be open to what comes. I do have some defined directions and ideas. The point being, sometimes I don’t understand what I’ve created until it’s done. And it can be a while after I’m done, before I start to understand.

Is it odd to not understand what you produce creatively? I doubt it. I think artists and writers try to get out of their own way when they create. I hope I do. It doesn’t always happen, but when it does, it’s one of the truest forms of joy that I know.

How about your creative endeavors. Do you try to understand them yourself? Or have others guided you toward an understanding, whether intentional or not?