I read a fantastic satirical article the other day about writing. Except at first I didn’t realize it was satire. Or maybe I just wasn’t paying attention to the title “How Not to Write”. So as I’m reading along about waiting until you’re inspired, sipping your coffee slowly, staring out the window, looking pensive and worldly as other patrons bustle about in your favorite local cafe, and I’m thinking uh yeah, I GOT THIS– I get the joke.
The article goes on to quote Jack London referring to finishing Call of the Wild “with a club”, rather than inspiration. I’m realizing that writing, like most other trades, is work. Not that I ever thought writing was simply having a time share in Alaska, sleeping in till noon, and waiting until you’ve conjured up every detail of a magical land seven books long, but maybe I wasn’t aware of how much writing writing requires. Good writing, at least.
Writing isn’t about left brain or right brain, innate talent, or divine inspiration (okay, maybe sometimes it’s about those things) but it’s about pursuing this thing that you want to pursue. And a really risky thing if you hope to make any money at it. And like carpentry, or acting, or any other finely tuned skill, some days you have no desire to clock in but the more you do the better you get. Likely not all of your work will be praise-worthy, criticism will feel personal, and you’ll need to get over it and muscle your way through the tough spots. Because life doesn’t wait for you to feel like it.
So here I am. Writing about trivial things to be minimally read. Not entirely void of inspiration, but forcing myself to be inspired with what I already have. And what I have is a desire to write, hopefully well some day. My life doesn’t need ethereal sunsets and charming bird songs in four part harmonies in order to be inspirational, nor does it require that I ban all distractive media in order to pursue creative integrity. It just requires some self awareness.
We’ve allowed ourselves to become jaded with life, with it’s magnitude, with it’s possibility, and we’ve settled for affirmation by posting pictures of what we ate for lunch online and letting all of our friends tell us how good it must taste. Though we likely spend little time actually tasting it. If we could but step back and taste life, I think we might be surprised at how much inspiration really is available. And if we wanted to tell a story we might have something to say.