Monday, July 02, 2007

Inspiration vs. intent

Pictured above is a work by British artist Eric Ravilius (1903-1942)

I meet them all the time, writers (and those who've never written a word) who are waiting for 'inspiration' to hit so they can produce that poem/article/novel they've been wanting to write.

I try not to sneer.

But I truly believe that the only time inspiration strikes is when you're sitting at your desk working, or already so deep in a piece of work, that the new idea or insight almost comes as an irritation.

But don't believe me. Here's what Mary Oliver, the Pulitzer Prize winning American poet says in her book ‘A Poetry Handbook’.

“If Romeo and Juliet had made appointments to meet, in the moolight-swept orchard, in all the peril and sweetness of conspiracy, and then more often than not failed to meet, one or the other lagging, or afraid, or busy elsewhere – there would have been no romance, no passion, none of the drama for which we remember and celebrate them.

Writing a poem is not so different – it is a kind of possible love affair between something like the heart, that courageous but shy factory of emotion, and the learned skills of the conscious mind.

They make appointments with each other, and keep them, and something begins to happen.

Or they make apppointments and are casaul and often fail to keep them them; count on it, nothing happens.

So if you're not inspired, or have writers block, or are the only one in your writing group with nothing to share, it might be because you're not making an appointment with yourself to write - in which case, how can you expect anything to happen?

So pick a place, set a time, make a goal.

And be there.

Something will happen.


Hélène B said...

Hi Lois,

I've said it before: Writing is not for sissies.

It is work and it is hard. I think the reason people hide behind 'writer's block' or don't even get started is fear. Too afraid to produce something that sucks.

But, like painting, we writers need to brush on the first strokes. It might not look like much at first, but as you get to know your painting and add in the shadows and details, it starts to shape up into something.

The biggest breakthrough for me was realising that it was okay to produce a less than stellar first draft. The magic happens in the revisions.

Nice blog! Glad I dropped by. Is it okay if I link you on my blog?

Anonymous said...

Thanks for dropping by, H. And sure. Add a link to my blog from yours, and once I can remember how to do it, I'll reciprocate.

Anonymous said...

Can't believe I'm in your blog right now. I saw your book on my advisor's desk, thumbed through it and was really somewhat lost in its beauty... and suddenly I'm here in the author's blog, amazing...

Lois Peterson said...

Anon -

Don't you just love the see the interconnectedness of everything at work!

Thanks for dropping by, and for your kind words aabout MM405. I hope your advisor lent you her copy so you could find out how the story unfolded.