Halloween. It’s the time of creepy monsters, ghosts, and goblins. It is also the time when theaters feature the newest horror films and television replays the classic ones. Thrillers allow us to experience what happens when the unimaginable mingles with the mundane. And whether it is through our fingers or peeks above our blanket, we see what can happen when normal becomes paranormal.
It happened to Regan MacNeil in the Exorcist; it happened to the house on 112 Ocean Venue in Amityville Horror, to an isolated hotel in The Shining and to an abandoned mental hospital in Session 9. What happened? They all become inhabited by some unseen and unknown entity—they were possessed.
As evidenced by the success of the movie Paranormal Activity and its sequels, it’s obvious that a lot of people are intrigued by entities that are different from yet connected to our realm of reality, understanding and awareness. Many are fascinated by spirits. It is important though to understand the definition of “spirit”. The term “spirit” has many meanings, including but not limited to a supernatural being (devil or angel), the animating force within all living beings, incorporeal consciousness or God. Plainly said, not all spirits are evil, bad, or dreaded.
Although the connotation of spirit or being possessed is usually negative, there is also inspirational spiritually and being possessed by creativity. Muses, which are goddesses of literature and the arts were often believed to inspire or take possession of the artist helping them to create great work. There was a time when it was believed that creativity couldn’t be integral to a person but rather inspired by external forces; a possession of sorts. And there are those who believe the Holy Spirit worked through the writers of the Bible.
As writers, we understand the frustration of being blocked. We know the aggravation of obstruction—of words, thoughts, ideas. We are too familiar with the pressure of a blank page or the irritation of not completing our thought precisely as we want. But writers also occasionally have the fortune to experience the spirit or muse of creativity and to feel themselves possessed by imaginative thoughts, artistic ideas and a wealth of words that continuously flow with little to now effort. Writers know what it is to be possessed.
Possession doesn’t just simply mean that an evil spirit claims squatter’s rights to your corporeal residence, making your head spin around for kicks. We also can be possessed by passion, ideas, words. When you are a writer you have a passion for stories and the words that create them; the stories and words inhabit you, become a part of you. Sometimes the ideas come so quickly and the words flow so fast that it is truly like being possessed.
Possession of the creative kind can emanate from a muse, a superior being or a beautiful sunset but when it happens you know it and it’s pure magic. For a writer, it is the moment when your imagination is free, your ideas clear, your words unhindered. It is a time when your thoughts flow faster than your fingers can type; there is no hesitation, indecision or second-guessing—there is only writing.
The key to finding this creative spirit is to not seek it and the secret to keeping it is to not force it. Instead when you are possessed by creativity and filled with the spirit of inspiration, don’t question it, don’t fight it, rather welcome it, allow it, encourage it and use it to produce a beautiful piece of work.
Causes Sherry Parnell Supports
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Habitat for Humanity, Heifer International