Where do you fall within the full spectrum of inspiration? Do you actively seek inspiration or are you content to wait for the first flap or ruffle of an inspired word?
“The way in which you think of the energy that motivates you to pick up your pen and add to your writing will shape your relationship with your writing and your ability to pursue it.” — Jane Smiley, 13 Ways of Looking at the Novel
This quote comes toward the end of a long passage about writers and their continual dance with inspiration. As Smiley says, “every author attests to the two states of writing–inspiration and waiting for inspiration.” For Smiley, the state of being inspired enough to write is “a condition of being stimulated by contemplation of the material to a degree sufficient to overcome your natural disinclination to create.”
Far too many writers are content to play the romantic courtier languishing on the sidelines while waiting for even the briefest glimpse of their Muse, the supposed supplier of their creativity. They love being caught up in the moment, dancing among the glorious stream of words only to fall exhausted at their Muse’s feet. When they wake, their Muse has vanished. Distraught, they sit and pine.
What about you? Are you aggressive enough in your courting of the Muse? Or are you content to allow her to play hide and seek with your inspiration? Do you wake up every day ready to ride through the dense forest, wade through rapid river currents, intent upon pursuing your inspiration? Or do you sit, hoping against hope that this is the day you will entertain an audience with the fairytale Muse?
Perhaps it’s time to reshape your relationship. Direct confrontation too much? Try stalking her. Shuffle your papers, sharpen your pencils, open your files, render your thoughts, fears, and hopes into an online journal, open a project notebook. Don’t wait for inspiration to show its face. Take control. You set the parameters. The muse can’t help but return, if only to see what you’re up to.