Sunday, March 18, 2007

Inspiration is for sissies

The Sunday Scribblings prompt this week is "inspiration," in honor of the website's almost-anniversary. Now, inspiration is a funny thing. I believe in it, but I don't rely on it. It's like luck: great when it comes calling, but not exactly reliable. Better you become your own muse than wait for that fickle creature to show up late and possibly drunk from partying with some hipper, cooler artist! My current email sign-off quote is:

"I don't know what inspiration is, but when it comes, I hope it finds me working."
- Picasso


That's the secret. Tell everyone.

That's not to say that you don't need to be passionate about your work, filled with awe, swooning with it! This isn't some cubicle where you come to fill out forms! You need to have a fire burning in your mind! But you need to light that fire, and keep it burning. You. Just you. Read, travel, read, go for walks, watch documentaries, read, fall in love with stuff and facts and sights and strangers and places you've never been and might never go, read, stuff your head with the marvels of the world. It's all you. If you don't do it, someone else will. Maybe not as well, possibly better. Surely, differently.

For me, Sundays Scribblings was part of a plan to write more, and it has worked. I've written more stories in the past year than in the five previous years combined. Funny how it works, too. Sometimes you read a prompt and it immediately sparks an idea in you. The second scribble ever was one of Megg's prompts and it was "real life." Almost as soon as I read it an idea for a strange fiction popped into my head and I wrote it and loved it and subsequently turned it into a novella. Yay, me! So, there was what you might call a spark of inspiration in the beginning, an idea leaping in the darkness, but after that, it was work.

Is inspiration for sissies? Nah, I just wrote that because it sounded kinda catchy. I would say that waiting around for inspiration like it's a bus that might or might not come, that's for sissies. Just start walking. The bus still might come, and if it doesn't you'll get there anyway. With sweaty feet and blisters, but you'll get there.


rel said...

Well put. I believe that showing up at the page is the number one requirement.
The words were always in me, but until I started blogging regularly, and found Sunday Scribbling and a couple poetry sights, I didn't see it. I've written more in the last 6 months than in the previous sixty years. Now I can't do it enough or fast enough. I start...the words show up. It's a reciprocal sort of thing.

Anonymous said...

a wonderful meditation, laini. but what about those artists who overthink every line, every sketch until their brains dissolve? i, unfortunately, am one of those artists. a friend of mind suggested i try doing what the surrealists did: create in a subsconscious sort of way.

"i'm frightened, auntie em, i'm frightened."

Laini Taylor said...

Rel -- I'm so glad Sunday Scribblings has been like that for you -- me too!

Jaye -- I AM one of "those artist." I swear. I've been self-medicating with coffee for years and forcing myself to grow into a different kind of artist. Slowly, painfully. But it's working. And I know, I'm frightened too, Auntie Em!

Unknown said...

I have never found a way to achieve anything without hard work. Plain and simple. That is how inspiration is created.

Jone said...

Wonderfully said. Coming to the writing table each day is key.

paris parfait said...

Laini, you and Megg have provided us with lots of inspiration through Sunday Scribblings. Thank you! And you're right, one shouldn't wait for inspiration; it often finds us.

Anonymous said...

Laini, I think you are sooooo right on about the work/inspiration ratio. I used to believe it was all inspiration, until I saw how well the work worked out. Work IS where it's at.

Your photo is ROFL-hilarious.

And thank you and Meg for Sunday Scribblings! Since I've found the site, my writing has a guaranteed fun, bright spot each week.

Becca said...

It is all a wonderful cycle really~showing up at the page (or the canvas, or the instrument) sets the inspiration in motion, so you keep showing up at the "whatever".

And yes, Sunday Scribblings has been a great incentive for me to show up at the Thank You (and Megg!) for the past year of inspiration!

awareness said...

Hi there........your inspiration to create this site has blossomed into others being inspired. It's wonderful....

One of the prompts you posted about a month ago? Puzzlement, I think it was drove me to write a personal testimony on where I was with religion. It ended up taking me a week to spill it out, so didn't link it to the site..... but I must tell you that I have had very interesting responses to it, and feel that possibly it was the post that needed to be written to tie in many of the other bits and pieces that I have churned out over the past year.

I thank you for that....... :)

Anonymous said...

Laini, you KNOW how I feel about Sunday's such an important part of my week and writing life. I don't think I would have found my "themes" or my voice(s) without it!

And, yep, having a baby has shown me that, alas, if I wait for inspiration AND naptime together to write, I'll be waiting a heck of a long time.

Amber said...

You are a wise teacher, Laini.


Dharma Kelleher said...

I have often said, "Sometimes my muse sings and sometimes she just belches the alphabet."

Whenever she's belching the alphabet, I remember Anne LaMott's "Bird by Bird", and in particular the chapter entitled "Sh*tty First Drafts".

Remembering Sean Connery's (or at least his character's) advice in the movie "Finding Forrester" also helps. He said, "When you write, write! Editing comes later!"

Somehow it's easier to just put something on paper when I recall these words of wisdom. And eventually, something resembling prose appears.


gautami tripathy said...

Great post, Laini.

SS inspires me to write too.

Anonymous said...

Amen to that! I love this perspective on inspiration...and it is so true! You are wise indeed. :-)

Anonymous said...

You know what - as I was writing my post for this week I began to recognise an awful lot of me in my "muse" - she always turns up with her sleeves rolled up because I turn up with my sleeves rolled up. I get overwhelmed because there is so much to do, but then I take a deep breath, I stay, I roll up my sleeves and I find something to work on. I have often wondered what it would be like to be really "inspired", but I wouldn't swap my willingness to work hard for anything in the world.
You seem to have a wonderful mix of the both - I hope your life remains dull as can be while inspiration to work continues to keep that hoop rolling.