Monday, September 19, 2011

when the spirit moves you

A blog, for me, is essentially practice.  Some days I write really fabulous things and it all comes together in a stunning whirl of perfectly chosen words underlaid by a deep creative force that gives it all texture. 

Some days I write about my toenails. 

I think what I am beginning to realize about good writing, as perhaps about a good life, is that writing is best when it is inspired.  I always thought inspiration was a beautiful person, a gorgeous flower, a melt in your mouth meal.  Those things can bring on inspiration, certainly.  But that kind of stimulation comes from the mind, and goes to the mind.  It is good, and can lead to bigger and better, but it is not of what I write.

The inspiration that I have felt on occasion over the years when I write, is what artists everywhere would love to capture, to bottle up and bring out when their work is tedious.  It is the inspiration that comes from somewhere outside of yourself.  It makes your hands paint, it makes your vocal chords tremor, it makes your fingers hit the keyboard or carry the pen so utterly effortlessly and lightly that you are not at all sure the creation is coming from yourself.  They flow.  It flows.  There is no thinking, no thought, no judgement, it just comes out.  The editing voice that insists on commenting on what you have created has gone out to lunch, or taken a coffee break, and then you are suddenly left alone in your room with the one thing we each so desperately want to hold on to.  Creation. 

It is a rare moment when this comes.  And often it is unexpected.  I have felt this overwhelmingly in special places on the earth; Macchu Picchu, Kalalau, Katahdin, Belle Isle, the Buttermilk Falls bathtub, amongst others.  But how many of us can live at Macchu Picchu?  Or should?  I got to spend half a day there one day ten years ago, and it was rather a dramatic time, to say the least.  Creation, the words, the spirit flowed so completely and utterly through me that I am not sure I could have taken much more of it. 

Drugs can help bring inspiration, as many people know. Many overdosed rock stars, many dead singers and actors and poets, tried to channel inspiration. They gripped it so tightly that it killed them.  Coffee, or nicotine, or alcohol, no less toxic, but less regulated, can also up the anty and bring on the pen gripping creative energy.  I for one am thoroughly addicted to coffee, which helps me survive my day, but I admit, I have never been able to confidently move much past that into the realms of creative drug induced flow.  It always seemed like a bit too much risk for me.

Often a time of day can bribe inspiration to come.  For me, late at night is often when I feel the knock of the spirit at my creative door and am compelled to write down what it says.  But having a small child and little sleep, I usually miss the knock, preferring to sleep through the opportunity.

Despite wanting it so much, inspiration, it turns out, cannot be grasped.  The second you try to hold it, to contain it, it flees.  And then you are left waiting out the time between movements, until it comes again.  What I see now, is that in that time while you wait, you practice.  You write every day, you read, you learn about your art.  And then when the spirit returns, because it always does to those who want to create, you are more ready than ever to capture the moment, and bring voice to the creative force that inhabits the earth.  You cannot contain the spirit itself, but you can learn to take in it's power for a moment, and let it express the joy of life through you, be it in paint, in words, in clay, or in music.  I never write so well as when I am writing from that strange place of inspiration.  Because I have turned my brain off.  I am not thinking about what to write, or planning or scheduling, or working on the next sentence when I should simply be crafting the sentence in front of me.  I am just writing.

You cannot search for inspiration, nor can you call if forth at a moment's notice.  It comes when you are least expecting it, when you are vulnerable and calm and able to hear.  And if you are ready, if you have practiced, if you are deeply open, then when the spirit moves you, as they say, you can really truly create something powerful.  For soon, the inspiring energy will move on and you will go back to practicing and writing about your toenails.  Until the next time.

No comments: