Move Me Brightly

August 20, 2010

Inspiration is the holy grail of human existence.

That moment where the proverbial lightbulb illuminates is almost indescribably priceless.

It is like the first rest stop after a very long road trip– instantly relieving. Primally satisfying.

When our creative minds culminate in such a revelatory burst, it feels like a release. Like we’ve finished a puzzle, solved a riddle, or discovered a new planet, inspiration leaves us with a child-like, or perhaps even post-coital joy. I believe the gratification we get from our own inventiveness stems from a deeply psychological place; a place where the innocence of a new idea can be fostered before it is exposed to the world. We cradle our little flash of brilliance like a newborn, admiring with a private smile. We feel good about it, if only for a moment, before we share it with anyone else.

At least I know I do.

To expect a constant flow of inspiration is pretty idealistic. Sure, there have been some impressive minds in our time with the ability to consistently crank out well-composed, thoroughly engaging art or ideas, but we call those people prodigies. They are anomalies. Exceptions, not the rule. For the most part, I think the human condition is nothing if not a search for the next big thing: fire, paper, guitars, and computers. The rest of the animal kingdom surely teems with envy at our mere ability to conceptualize, nonetheless produce, such commonplace phenomena.

When inspiration strikes without warning, it’s just that much better. As a writer, and friend to many artists and musicians, I am all too familiar with the struggle to create. I have experienced firsthand the frustration that accompanies artistic obstruction: when a writer is not writing what, then, are they?

For many years, I kept my output high by working under pressure. As a journalist, it was easiest for me to contrive the (admittedly often banal) content when I was on a deadline. It prevented me from overanalyzing my opening sentence, my verbiage, and the placement of each comma. When generating articles for a news-type publication, it was best to stick with the facts, to be engaging but not controversial. That type of writing was, for me, was like a marathon runner hitting up the gym. It kept me in shape, kept my ego sufficiently stroked, but it wasn’t personally gratifying. It felt good, because it was words (mmm words), but it wasn’t truly inspired. It didn’t have any soul.

Then I stopped writing.

For the first time since I could put letters and phrases together, I just didn’t have the desire to do so. Initially, I felt a relief at the lack of pressure, lack of expectation, lack of mandate to do something I had once so greatly enjoyed. I felt a “good riddance” emotion toward my former passion. I was bitter toward my lack of inspiration, and frustrated by the robotic quality of my creation.

In my mind, it was better to not be writing at all than to be writing only blurbs, yawn-worthy local news, or mundane blog posts about (what i felt to be) my mundane life. I rationalized the unimportance of my art. Convinced myself that nobody would miss it, not even me. Of course, I realize now the role of perspective in all this. I wasn’t down on my writing as much as I was just down on myself.

Recently, after a nearly two year hiatus, inspiration and I were reacquainted. We fumbled for a bit, like awkward lovers, but I have discovered that our romance is not only still alive, but hotter than ever! It started sort of slowly, but now I feel back into the swing of things. I have been filling up notebooks and journals, I have been blogging and writing prose. There is no financial or physical reward, and it’s almost better this way. Satisfaction is derived solely from pairing nouns with their congruous adjectives, assigning actions their befitting descriptors, and telling stories with the flair of drama I see in even the most platitudinous events.

I have found my muse and unearthed the dormant artist within. I am feeling more like myself than ever before and that, in and of itself, is a truly inspirational thing.

Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t try to do things. You simply must do things. [[Ray.Bradbury]]

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