Writing is a lonely sport. The cursor blinks menacingly on the empty background, angry photons burning trails onto doubt-filled retinas. What will appear is unknown, something between garbage and genius, or worse…nothing. When all seems lost, inspiration flutters down like a timorous butterfly. And like magic, writing begins, timid at first, then braver, growing into a furious boldness that seems uncontainable, unstoppable, but then finally peters out to a whisper. It is a type of alchemy, lead into gold and ultimately – sweet torture.
Inspiration is Courageous
Where does inspiration come from, and with it – courage. What is brave about banging on a keyboard? Fear permeates the creative process, scratching roughshod into a reluctant spirit, stealing jewels from the claws of a sleeping dragon. It is not the fear of a known physical force, injury, pain or death; it is far worse. Physical wounds heal. It is the fear of having nothing to say, of having an empty soul. That is truly awful.
Creativity is a Job
I lost a dear friend recently. She was an artist. She inspired me to write, encouraged me when things seemed at their most difficult. “Touch it every day.” She would say. “No one knows where creativity lives. It is a job, and if you don’t show up, you cannot succeed. You must set the table if you expect your guests to arrive.” She was right, it is a job, the most difficult one possible. To be honest all the time, to never accept compromise, cowardice or timidity, to stare into blinding infinity and pull something from nothing. To never give up, knowing that there is no end to your journey.
The Muse is Selfish
The muses of creativity care nothing for our pain, discomfort or insecurities. They kick at our heads when we are sleeping, driving or eating dinner with friends. Like selfish children they demand our attention RIGHT NOW, not when it is convenient or expedient. Ignore them and they will dart away like frightened deer. Maybe they’ll come back in a day, a week, maybe never. Obey their cruel reason and be rewarded with something new, the blissful loss of time, but also with more insanity. Because the muses are insane, exquisitely beautiful crazies.
Science would have us believe we are bundles of chemical reactions, an accident of evolution that created consciousness. All that we call beauty is just a hormonal reaction to certain frequencies of light and sound. But that doesn’t explain Michelangelo, Shakespeare and Beethoven; where did they get their inspiration to bring such sublimity to the Earth. Science stumbles at the gates of art and we have to look beyond the mundane explanations of logic, through the iron bars of rationality into the swirling mist of creativity – where the muses dance.
Inspiration is the Paint, We Are The Canvas
Polyhymnia, sacred muse of poetry, and her eight sisters live beyond the limited mind. They kiss our eyes when we sleep, pulling us into the soul-ripping abyss. They temp us with words, shapes and colors, impossible ideas that would make others scoff or shrug. Inspiration is their paint and we are their canvas. One only needs to step aside, lower one’s head in humility and accept their gifts. Gifts that must be passed on or fester like rotting fruit.