I showed up to work today. It would be nice if you did, too.
I have, for all intents and purposes, adopted the Greco-Roman idea about muse and genius (as paraphrased by Liz Gilbert in this Ted Talks video on creativity. To paraphrase, art-inclined people of the past two centuries seem to have come up with this notion that all the spectacular-ness that is true beauty comes out of their own head (ie. they are the genius). Subsequently, a lack of producing what we feel as artistic goodness can lead to…well, alcoholism, drug abuse, and an alarming rate of suicide in the art world (Sylvia Plath, Van Gogh, etc.). Gilbert says that we’re looking at it all wrong: the muse, the genius, is not in us. It is floating somewhere out there, in the ether, and sometimes it comes to us and sometimes it doesn’t. And, while we certainly ought to do our best to sit down and pen or type or paint or play the best thing we possibly can, we need to do so with the attitude that we are not the only participants in this thing.
There’s a lot less pressure on us that way. Thinking like this could – probably – greatly reduce the number of artists who do damaging things to themselves.
Anyway, I say all this so that you know what I mean (without watching the twenty minute video) when I say to the muse that I showed up to work today. Because I have been sitting here for four hours, trying to type, revising one of my stories and trying to muster up the creative energy to work on another. And today, for whatever reason, it just isn’t coming. The whole thing’s a struggle through molasses or something and I am just so frustrated with the entire situation.
I’ve been waiting to write this post because it is the 100th post of this blog, a fact about which I am very proud, and I wanted it to be something beautiful and profound (perhaps another poem). Instead I’m slogging through the details and wondering why the cogs are just not falling into place tonight, why I’m so reluctant to work on these pieces that before I was so thrilled to work on.
I don’t know. I don’t know. I love this, I do, but I am so incredibly frustrated with the monster that is revisions and the bane of my existence that (what I consider to be) other useless schoolwork that is not writing and the expectations of graduate schools and scholarships and…oh, everything.
I want to sit in my chair with a cup of hot tea and stare at the wall while the music plays.
I want to type, type, type with the purposeful strokes that mean there is something good going on up there in the darkness of my subconscious with the muse and my head.
And instead I’m sitting here, somewhere in between both of those places.
Joe Brainard’s poem, Poem, sums it up pretty well:
oh, I don’t know.
– – –