Thursday, May 2, 2013

Inspiration or perspiration?

Ah, inspiration versus perspiration, one of those age old arguments in the creative arts!  Sounds a bit like its cousin, pantsing versus planning, but that's for another day.  Yet, no matter which -spiration one applies, we've all found ourselves at the keyboard, fingers doing nothing more productive than cracking our knuckles, wondering if the dogs need to go out or, worse yet, glancing at our watch, thinking maybe it's time to weed the crabgrass beds or to make sure the microwave is still plugged in.  Anything to avoid the fact that all the damned muses seem to be on vacation.

The dreaded Writer's Block strikes again!

Blocked?  Really?  So how does that work?

As if my mind were burrowing in some creative tunnel and had come flush up against a jumble of logs and rocks and the bones of the long-dead, all unyielding against the blows of my sharpened quill, no matter how much energy I focused into each stroke? That fertile soil of the brilliant scene or evocative description so tantalizingly close, its aroma of worms and wetness teasing like the first taste of Proust's tea-soaked madeleine.  As if, could I but find that precious key, the rocks would shatter and the thing would tumble into place and I could sit back and admire my completed story, so lovely and, well, so easy once I got past that lump of whatever.  I swallow the madeleine and wait.

But somehow, that's just not the image that comes to mind at those times when I sit at the keyboard, fingers hovering, hoping the ice maker will kerchunk so I can hurry to count the fresh cubes.  Those muses, circling and winking and pointing at the ethereal solution to my story, yet clearly outside the true source of my story.  Outside my own conscious thought and my subconscious well of connections.

Isn't it, perhaps, not blocked, but, rather, empty?

Nothing fresh within, no path in sight.  Now who can I blame?

You really mean I have to work, to sweat, to find those goddamned offering envelopes again, and really use them in some organized and concerted way?  But how?  I mean, that has to be hard!

Shit.  Those damned muses were so convenient.  Shit.


  1. David, I wish I could be more empathetic, and perhaps someone is going to jump in and call me a liar.
    I've never had writer's block. I fear it. I dread it. But I've never had it.
    Maybe I'll write about this in my next blog.

  2. Me too, Heather. I haven't experienced a true blockage yet. But I might as well! What I find myself doing is revising a chapter or two constantly like I'm stuck in an obsessive funk, resulting in pseudo writer's that the book is never finished! For example, with my current novella, I..uh...just a second. I think my microwave is unplugged.

  3. I only wish I could say I never had writer's block. Every time I hit that wall, I remember the movie 'Finding Forrester', with Sean Connery. His character told the teen to write. The teen said to write what, that he was stumped. Connery said, "It doesn't matter, just write." When I get stuck, I just write. Maybe not about the subject I'm working on, but on something.

  4. Actually, I wasn't banging on about writers block, really. It was meant to be more of a dialogue about how and when inspiration comes to me. I know how to get around the dreaded BLOCK and it's as Keith said. Just write. Like on a blog, perhps.

  5. LOL, I was actually just poking a little fun at the ploy of blaming outside forces--something blocking the writer--as opposed to what I believe to be the case: you aren't working hard enough! More on that in another post...well, that's if I can come up with something and get around all those orange cones in my mind....

  6. In my case, I think I work hard (usually) when I write. It's just a question of whether I am working wisely.