The Asah Creative {2 of 2}

Posted on July 2nd, by dave in creativity, ross gale, rumination, theopoetics, vocation, writing. 12 comments

The Asah Creative {2 of 2}

{read part 1 of this post here…}

When my older brother at three years of age suffered a traumatic brain injury, he awoke three months later from a coma, unable to talk or walk. After two years of intense physical therapy he took his first step without a walker. He cried from the pain. That first step, re-doing and re-learning the simple action his body once knew, in a time before.

When I write I’m always faced with that first painful step. The act I’ve done so many times before, which feels like I’m standing at the edge of a cliff, frozen in fear at the depth and width of words and stories. Rubem Alves, the Brazilian philosopher, opens The Poet, The Warrior, The Prophet describing a spider who weaves a cobweb in the corner of his office. “I did not see her first move, the move which was the beginning of the web, the leap into the void…” How do I take the first step, this leap into a new story? For the spider the instinct to jump is natural. Pulling words from my heart and mind is an unnatural, often painful, act. How do I begin to weave my own web? I’m stuck with the blank page and Hebrew words echoing through my mind. Ranier Maria Rilke advises in Letters to a Young Poet, “But it comes only to those who are patient, who are there as if eternity lay before them, so unconcernedly silent and vast.”

Writing into nothing. Writing into silence. How do I find this courage to create, to leap from the cliff’s edge? No matter how often I asah-make I return to the ‘tohu vavohu’, the ‘formless and void’ of the beginning. I return to the pain of beginning, re-doing and re-learning. We Creatives are always rediscovering. Remembering more than observing.

How I do begin when I have no promise of bara-words, no assurance of co-creation with the Spirit? I am alone with asah-words and re-making the first step; rediscovering my first word.

This is when I return to my childhood. This is when I come back to my brother. The enormous weight and energy of my memories untapped and ripening within me. “Whoever welcomes in my name one such child as this, welcomes me.” (Matt. 18:5, GNT) I’m pregnant with asah-bara words and stories from my youth, the key to the kingdom.

Rilke writes, “And even if you found yourself in some prison, whose walls let in none of the world’s sounds–wouldn’t you still have your childhood, that jewel beyond all price, that treasure house of memories?”

This is where I must begin when I’m about to leap like the spider into the void. This is where I begin when I’m imprisoned by fear of the blank page, the nothing.

This is how I enter into the new kingdom of bara-creation. The asah-bara here and now. I start from the beginning. I leap back into my childhood.

I don’t know when or where I’ll land. I hope that I’ll look up or wake up and be moving forward. One foot ahead of the other. The story shaping my path. Each word earning its keep from the word before. I’ll look to my brother, each of his steps a testament to that first step, of his courage and of his pain.

Here’s to new beginning and to first steps done again and again.



Ross Gale is a writer and editor from Oregon. His work is featured in Burnside Writers Collective, Relief Journal, Archipelago, and he contributes to He earned his Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Seattle Pacific University. He blogs at where he’s editing the “Bereshit Bara Creativity Series” which asks 13 Creatives to wrestle with questions about what gives them the courage to create.

12 Responses to “The Asah Creative {2 of 2}”

  1. Derek Smith says:

    “One foot ahead of the other. The story shaping my path. Each word earning its keep from the word before. I’ll look to my brother, each of his steps a testament to that first step, of his courage and of his pain.” — Wow. This is beautiful. I’ve never thought of words “earning their keep” from the words that come before. And those words may not even know they’re paving the way! Thank you for this.

  2. David says:

    I’m not going to read this post—I’ll just wait for the hardcover book.

  3. Jennwith2ns says:

    The fear of the blank page . . .

    I’m wondering, right this instant, if that’s why I’m so undisciplined and slow in my writing. I have one book published, which process took years, and the one I’m hoping to introduce to the world now has taken even longer. I can keep going back to it and tweaking it and only half-heartedly trying to get it out for general consumption, but if I succeed? Then I have to write another story, and I’m afraid to discover I haven’t got one.

  4. Read this last week but didn’t get a chance to comment. This was beautiful. I’ve been thinking about that invisible first leap of spider into web since I read it. Thank you.

  5. Thanks for this–I resonate with all of the rich images. Your post reminds me of a quote from Thomas Merton. He wrote, “We do not want to be beginners. But let us be convinced of the fact that we will never be anything else but beginners all our life!” He was speaking of prayer but could easily have been talking about writing. We always take the leap into a new piece–as you said, into the silence, the nothingness–with a clean slate, as if it were the first time. Writing is a lot about beginning again and again.

    • Ross Gale says:

      Thanks for sharing the quote. You’d think beginning again would get easier each time, but it doesn’t seem to work that way with writing. At least for me.

  6. I think beginning is always hard, always a bit of a leap and a risk, but I find as I grow older, I trust more deeply that the place I land will be a solid and fruitful place (even if it doesn’t become a public piece of writing).

Leave a Reply

resources for faithful practitioners of creativity and creative practitioners of faith...

Pieces of Freedom & Becoming: Collage of Seoul in Review

{ in this brief review, Maggie Boyd reflects on reading Jae Newman’s debut book of poetry, Collage of Seoul }

“I am free,” is the opening...

interview: jae newman

{ in this interview, jae newman discusses naming the muses and slot machines… }\


when you picture someone reading your poetry, how do you see...

interview : melissa studdard

{ in this interview, poet melissa studdard give some practical advice on the writing life }

when you picture someone reading your poetry, how do...

interview: a. k. lamotte

{ a.k. lame speaks on emerging and beginning, of the poet, the poem, and

when you picture someone reading your poetry, how do you see...

breaking through, w/ mark liebenow

The Spirituality of the Wilderness: Do We Need to Pray in Nature, or Are We Already Praying?

The first snow of the season...

interview: amber nelson

{ in this interview, poet amber nelson brings the heat discussing vision, revision, and attentiveness }

when you picture someone reading your poetry, how do...

interview: michael martin

{ in this interview, poet michael martin discusses approaches to creating poems. }

when you picture someone reading your poetry, how do you see them?...

interview: sheldon lee compton

{ in this interview, sheldon lee compton ruminates on fiction, revision, and writing as a life discipline }

when you picture someone reading your fiction,...

interview: karen swallow prior

{ in this interview, karen swallow prior discuss her process and the challenges of writing toward truth }

you’re primarily known as—I think—a lover and...

interview: david wright

{ in this interview, poet david wright discusses craft, inspiration, and revision }

when you picture someone reading your poetry, how do you see them?...

“walking with kindness” by mark liebenow

What is required of us is to do justice, love kindness,

 and walk humbly with our God. Micah 6:8


I imagine Micah...

“a made thing” by heather caliri

For a long time, I simply felt helpless.

My youth pastor in high school was spiritually abusive to many of us, and he sexually abused...

“the devil you know: rough drafts” by elizabeth jarrett andrew

Poor revision, unfairly maligned due to a quirk of human nature! We beasts prefer prowling on familiar territory, rooting up the same soil with...

interview: aaron belz

{an interview with poet and essayist aaron belz, who recently released his third collection of poetry, GLITTER BOMB}

when you picture someone reading your poetry,...

a worker’s prayer: van gogh on sight

When it’s warm outside and the food processing plant doesn’t smell, I sit on the call center steps and drink tea in the sun....

%d bloggers like this: