There’s No Place Like Zone

I don’t know! I don’t know why I did it, I don’t know why I enjoyed it, and I don’t know why I’ll do it again! – Bart Simpson

If you are a writer and/or a painter, you are probably familiar with The Zone. It is when, somewhere while creating, a type of force takes over and begins to do your work for you.  Michelangelo spoke of the experience:


Michelangelo is saying that in sculpting, a striation or a marking in the marble seemed to beckon him to make a cut here or another there, and that by merely following that inner voice or guide, he arrived at a Michelangelo.

This week, something happened that reminded me of how very important it is to not get ahead of your own intuition.

I am taking a free wordpress poetry class, and each day there is a new challenge.  The challenge one day was to write a prose poem, and since I had just finished writing a chapter of my memoir, an idea immediately came to mind.  I was thrilled at how simple the project would be.  While writing my prose piece, I had already thought of a good name: When Cotton Was King. Therefore, I began a poem that was already named.  I know better than that. My best titles come to me as I work–not before! This is true both in painting and in writing. For me, it is best to just have a few, broad ideas when I begin to work. When I reach The Zone, the zone itself sculpts, sands, and polishes the piece. Finally, The Zone gives the piece a title.

My poem, which began as another memory from growing up when cotton farming was profitable, actually ended not so much about King Cotton as about the child who was affected by his dethroning.  I changed the name to Cotton Child:

If you study the link closely, you will see that before I realized my mistake, I had already published the poem with the title: When Cotton Was King. Big mistake. Again: Never get ahead of your own intuition.

“For it is intuition that improves the world, not just following a trodden path of thought.” – Albert Einstein

“Intuition is the father of new knowledge, while empiricism is nothing but an accumulation of old knowledge. Intuition, not intellect, is the ‘open sesame’ of yourself.” – Einstein

“Indeed, it is not intellect, but intuition which advances humanity. Intuition tells man his purpose in this life.” – Einstein

“I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination.  Imagination is more important than knowledge.  Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.” – Albert Einstein

copyright Jacki Kellum October 8, 2015


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