Thursday, 21 July 2011

Masochism - yes, inspiration - not so much

08:21:00 Posted by Damp incendiary device 3 comments
THE greatest creation of this millennium to date, Wikipedia, describes this week's theme thus:

"Inspiration refers to an unconscious burst of creativity in a literary, musical, or other artistic endeavour. Literally, the word means "breathed upon," and it has its origins in both Hellenism and Hebraism. The Greeks believed that inspiration came from the muses, as well as the gods Apollo and Dionysus. Similarly, in the Ancient Norse religions, inspiration derives from the gods, such as Odin. Inspiration is also a divine matter in Hebrew poetics. In the Book of Amos the prophet speaks of being overwhelmed by God's voice and compelled to speak. In Christianity, inspiration is a gift of the Holy Spirit."

I don't believe in inspiration. I believe in neural pathways, opportune observations and memory triggers. I believe in themes, deadlines and writing exercises. I believe in bouncing off muses, emotional responses and intrigue. I don't believe in prophetic ability.

Writing is an urge. The act of tying thoughts down to signifiers and culturally agreed definitions turns me on. I want to drink in my surroundings - present and past - and observe as they settle down, embedding themselves into the walls of my mind. The walls of my inner cave are constantly in flux, like drawings in chalk that blur and sharpen as you watch. Some days bright light illuminates specific ideas, other days it's dim in there and there's a bad smell. But I don't expect the drawings to jump down from the wall and organize themselves elaborately on a computer screen. I don't want them to do that. I want to notice elements of the drawings, make connections between separate parts. I want to try to recreate the drawings for myself but in a different format and from a new perspective. Mostly, I long to practice doing this. I want to describe the images on the walls of my mind over and over, in a multitude of fashions and in a variety of lights. I want to create again and again, sometimes improving and sometimes slipping into obscurity. Occasionally I want to form something exquisite. Sometimes I want to know that I have formed something exquisite, sometimes I want you to know but keep it to yourself.

But I don't believe in inspiration. I believe in tired eyes and dirty fingers. I believe in running myself into the ground because it's the only way I know I'm putting everything into this messy effort. This is because I'm a masochist. It's also why I'm a writer.
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3 comments:

Ashley R Lister said...

Every time a person says they don't believe in inspiration, one of the muses dies.

And I'm hoping my post on Saturday reflects the pragmatism stated in your approach.

Ash

vicky ellis said...

I don't believe in inspiration.
I don't believe in inspiration.
I don't believe in inspiration.
I don't believe in inspiration.
I don't believe in inspiration.
I don't believe in inspiration.
I don't believe in inspiration.
I don't believe in inspiration.
I don't believe in inspiration.

How many of the buggers are there? Am I getting close?

Ashley R Lister said...

You're like Harold Shipman to the muses.

:-)

Ash