I spent all day yesterday reading ‘The Exorcist’, and looking ruefully at what I intend to be the first draft my next book. This book has a silent, sullen, intractable quality, the kind only books-that-are-yet-to-be-written and mouth ulcers have. Try as I might, I couldn’t will myself to continue my research or even just refine the chapter outline.
What is the nature of inspiration? How are some of us inspired to bound out of bed and write blogs and books, start new business ventures, work out and even plan events?
I realise now that inspiration doesn’t choose to randomly inhabit the persons of the chosen few whilst denying itself to others. Inspiration, instead, comes to those who are willing to create an atmosphere for it to thrive. Much like providing a safe and healthy environment for children, pets or plants to grow in, inspiration also needs a certain fecundity of environment. Innocuous social media trends, consumerist mouse clicks, ‘news’ in 280 characters or less….all these are inspiration vampires. Reading a real newspaper, or even an entire book (whole and unabridged!), a Bharatnatyam or pottery class or even going on a trip with your friends can kneed the cool balm of inspiration on our frazzled minds and insipid lives.
In speaking to many people my age, I realise that the biggest inspiration sponge is a strange, inexplicable fixation on who we think we are and what we think we like. A definition of us, if you will, and one that is cast in stone. So whether its refusal to simply experiment with a new fashion trend, a new genre or even just a different color, the quickest way to kill creativity (excuse the alliteration) is to sigh with pleasure in our comfort zones. The sigh that stifled a million brea(d)ths of experience.
So I wonder then, perhaps spending all day reading wasn’t really a waste of time? It might have instead refuelled my inspiration reserves so that I can now look at my research from a different angle, get rid of the blinkers that build up even as we’re looking at the same word, closet, living room and city for the umpteenth time.