On Inspiration / by LD



"I got it back, Mikey - the self confidence. I am a MAGICIAN!"
- Gob Bluth

In terms of history's fickle mistresses (fate, destiny, vending machine dollar slots), none plays so cruel a game as the most mercurial of them all: inspiration. One day it's there in spades, the next it can't be found. I've learned that with myself, inspiration comes in waves. Like most creative endeavors and industries, the framework around which a career is constructed is the idea of ebb & flow; feast & famine. 

However, the unfortunate eddying of creative inspiration during times of oppressive busyness has always plagued me; when the rigors of work demand 100% of my attention, suddenly inspiration rears its alluring head. And when I am finally able to rest, to think, to create - inspiration's unsteady, faithless flight is a foregone conclusion. (But oh, how the stalwart and ever-present alliteration circles, ready and willing to descend and feast upon any sentence flowing from my fingertips. The same goes for puns and adjectives, my respective bread and butter.) 

(Much to the utter chagrin of any reader who likes their points delivered in a neatly wrapped package of ascetic clarity. Mine, I'm afraid, are of the embarrassingly over-taped, ink-smudged, triple-stamped variety. A shame, really, because I'm quite sure Hemingway and I would have been INSTANT friends if not for this.)

Any boss I've ever worked under, I fear, has loathed me for this trait (inspiration under work-related duress, that is - not using too many superfluous adjectives); because though I might attempt to focus on the far more menial task at hand, the fact of the matter is that I just can't turn it off. My ideas often come to me in a deluge as varied and diverse as tchotchkes at a rummage sale - and it's all I can do to pluck each one from obscurity before it sails away from me forever. These creative outbursts cannot be harnessed or tamed; it's only my job to make sure to acknowledge them and do my part to see that they come to fruition.  And so as an artist, as a creative person, my drive and my inspiration - my imagination, even - exist as a thing apart from myself. It's a partnership between two entities: I myself, and the external force of inspiration. 

An idea has a very limited shelf life in my world, and when it hits me, I'm at its mercy. And so too the idea of inspiration as a fickle mistress (or mister, I suppose) haunts me when it is in hiding, or when it is off gracing another's addled mind with its presence. On days like today, weeks like this week, or seasons like this one - the dog days of Summer, wilting, lifeless - it's all I can do to muster enough creative energy to drum up a maudlin paragraph for a blog.  Or consider how I might present myself to the world as a creative person in a season of life wherein I don't feel creative at all. 

But nevertheless I prevail. Because I've had more than a few stops and starts in my life, and when it comes to many areas of my day to day living, I'm too accustomed to giving up than pressing on. This blog became an exercise of that discipline last year, in fact. I've kept this space for over four years now but my posting until last year was sporadic at best. I submitted myself to the capricious forces of Inspiration and too often felt it wasn't doing its job enough for me to do mine. But I chose, last year, to keep writing. To keep searching. To commit to something and to follow through, whether inspiration struck or not. And by the grace of God it's been a successful endeavor in that regard. 

So now I'm turning that stern sense of self-will onto other areas of my creativity. Because now more than ever it matters what I do, what I don't do, and at the very least: what I try to do. 

Here are a few photos I snapped this afternoon. I plucked this sunflower from the depths of obscurity this weekend (he was growing along the dirt, facing not the sun and sky, but, I suspect, eavesdropping on earthworms). I thought perhaps a little water would do the trick, but the glumflower is having none of it and has began weeping pollen onto the table. 

Well, at least I tried.