The longer inspiration has gone walkabout, the more elusive it becomes. What to do, what to do. Sit around like a jilted lover waiting for the phone to ring? Or move on. Just start writing and inspiration be damned!
Google, I thought. “Defining Inspiration”. You wouldn’t believe how many blog posts there are with people wondering the same thing. It’s nice to know I’m not alone. I guess.
The dictionary. Not exactly inspiring but at least a start. Here’s what it says:
Inspiration – stimulation or arousal of the mind, feelings to special or unusual activity or creativity
Some years ago I remember reading a novel about a writer who was blocked. He was stuck at a point in the action where his main character had raced up the stairs to …. What? He wrestled and struggled until inspiration hit. Go in reverse. He sent the character back down the stairs and the story progressed. I’ve since used that when I’ve been stuck trying to solve a problem. Back up. Try another direction. It’s a technique that helped me get past a particularly troublesome obstacle during collective bargaining a few years ago. Maybe that’s the key. Is the reverse of waiting for inspiration to come to me to go out and get it? And if so, how? Or is it to become an inspiration? Double yikes.
As I write, I’m parked in front of the television. Watching game seven in the hockey playoffs – Habs vs Boston – in solidarity with Sweetie. We’re wearing our Canadiens sweaters. He talks about an inspired play. Skillful. Creative. Fast! Commercials zoom past for the Ipad2 and the Blackberry playbook. Inspired technology. Jack Layton comes on urging Canadians to vote NDP. With the federal election just days away, Jack’s proven to be an inspiration with his party’s surge in the polls.
The potential for inspiration surrounds us. In nature. In music and art. Which themselves are the result of inspiration. Sometimes it’s in the stuff of day to day living. A shape. Or a trick of light. A moment. Or a tableau. It just happens. The challenge is recognition, especially when inspiration is hidden deep in the ordinary.
Here’s what I know about inspiration. It doesn’t strike when I want it to. It comes when I’ve cleared my head, given my brain a break, getting away from the logical mind. Happens sometimes during meditation. Sometimes by remembering the writer’s lesson, backing up, going in reverse. Sometimes it’s asking a simple question. What if? What else? Why? Why not? What’s the endgame? How can I get there? What would it take? Imagine?
Like watching a kettle waiting for the boil, it won’t come with hard searching. It will come with the discipline of being able to walk away, let go. A bit of a paradox.
Write forward, said Althea. Don’t look back. It will come. And whatever it is will be welcome.