Monday, July 21, 2014

July 21 2014: Do I believe in inspiration? Yes, I do—but mostly it stems from work. It is the solid process of working which really inspires—and working a great deal at that. Writing, for most of us, is extremely time-consuming. The creative arts generally are.

The age of Social Everything makes the art of solitude appear increasingly difficult to attain, even terrifying.

Maria Popova.

When I write about writing—which I do fairly regularly—I often comment on the amount of work that writing requires.

I do that not to put the novice writer off—but to prepare them—and by way of encouragement, I normally stress how enjoyable I find the process of writing. Nonetheless, I remain awed by the level of commitment that writing requires. It is truly an all encompassing discipline—and discipline is the right word.

Wikipedia describes discipline as follows:

Discipline is the assertion of willpower over more base desires, and is usually understood to be synonymous with self control. Self-discipline is to some extent a substitute for motivation, when one uses reason to determine the best course of action that opposes one's desires.

That wonderful website quotes Leonard Cohen on working this week. Would that I had his talent—but I can certainly relate to his work ethic.

I'm writing all the time. And as the songs begin to coalesce, I'm not doing anything else but writing. I wish I were one of those people who wrote songs quickly. But I'm not. So it takes me a great deal of time to find out what the song is. So I'm working most of the time.


To find a song that I can sing, to engage my interest, to penetrate my boredom with myself and my disinterest in my own opinions, to penetrate those barriers, the song has to speak to me with a certain urgency. To be able to find that song that I can be interested in takes many versions and it takes a lot of uncovering...

My immediate realm of thought is bureaucratic and like a traffic jam. My ordinary state of mind is very much like the waiting room at the DMV... So to penetrate this chattering and this meaningless debate that is occupying most of my attention, I have to come up with something that really speaks to my deepest interests. Otherwise I nod off in one way or another. So to find that song, that urgent song, takes a lot of versions and a lot of work and a lot of sweat.

But why shouldn't my work be hard? Almost everybody's work is hard. One is distracted by this notion that there is such a thing as inspiration, that it comes fast and easy. And some people are graced by that style. I'm not. So I have to work as hard as any stiff, to come up with my payload.

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