On Inspiration

Dear World 

Please Kill Me, 

It’s hard to say where anyone finds their inspiration. Sure, we could speculate for days about the various muses and other ostensible sources of creative perpetuity (#wordgasm) but the truth of the matter remains the same. No one really knows the who, what, where, when, or how that breeds the inspiration for their artistic endeavors. 

For instance, we all know (or have at least heard of) individuals spawning the bastard seeds of imaginative fury from a specific source that causes their emotions to undulate. For some, it’s a man, woman, or another form of loved-one that sets the spark that our minds fan into a flame. Though I can’t speak of any particular ‘ye’ or ‘nay’ I can say that I’ve been under this delusion several times myself. Most often, it’s a woman—about whom I know little.  

However, those instances are often irrevocably wooed by my own mind. Wherein I could potentially claim her to be a source, she is, for better or worse, little more than a conduit for what was already there. One of the chisels, with which I dig to find the sculpture within. Valueless? No, there is inherent value. Important? Well, that remains debatable. 

Others still claim to find their spark in life’s little nuances. A temporary illness that leaves them bedridden but their mental acuity sharp as a tack. An interaction with someone from outside their social ecosystem, that burrows outward into hypothetical avenues. Even an instance of something relatively benign: brain freeze, stubbed toe, hair in your food (constipation?) could be theoretically back-tracked as the origin for one Pulitzer or another. (If you think “The Old Man and the Sea” didn’t spring from an episode of octogenarian fish-punching, I have some snake-oil to sell you).  

Anyway, my point is that writers like to attribute the source of their inspiration to something tangible. Something intrinsically connected to the daily-grind, that not only allows us a clear path of communication but also gives us an out for our insanity. The problem here is, insanity is our sharpest weapon. Better still, we never have to wait for it.

Whereas I don’t believe awaiting inspiration is harmful, I do find that it can be damaging in matters of productivity and risk-taking in creation. Simply put, even if the sun ceases to rise, we would continue about our days in darkness. Not for lack of care but for the importance of continuing as independent creatures of the craft. In that same way, should the inspiration not beckon at our call, we should still rise, create, and disconnect from reality that we may better connect with it. Inspiration is good but it shouldn’t be an absolute necessity.  

Instead, I like to think of inspiration as something of an additive. When I start writing, it’s rarely from a place of being “inspired.” Rather, I’m driven. Like most of you, I have something to say (which I’m pretty sure is baked into my DNA) and I’m hell bound to execute those ideas in a language that can entertain, thrill, and inform.  

My stories usually originate from a collection of sources that I find interesting. Once I have a premise worthy of building on, I write and always allow room for inspiration within the set parameters of the narrative. Truth be told, if I only worked at times of inspiration, I would have a million-plus unfinished stories—all bathing in moments of brilliance without any discernible direction. I try to treat inspiration as seasoning. Not the main course. To do otherwise would damn me to a lifetime of frustrated incompletion. (#ThatsWhatSheSaid #Single)

Alternatively, I don’t mock or knock anyone who chooses to go about their work from an inspiration-heavy angle. Though the previous paragraphs may speak to the contrary, I quite enjoy when I see the tool used well. However, a sad fact of any creative endeavor is that the inspiration doesn’t always come. Because of this, I choose to utilize it when it comes but otherwise, it’s in the wind to me.  

When you’re in a position of having to constantly create, you can’t do much worse than allowing yourself to become a slave to something intangible. Who would you rather be, the ‘writer with potential’ who’s proven they can write when the spirit moves them or the writer who embodies the spirit itself? Again, inspiration is the seasoning. Your true power lies within your ability to consistently create and to do it well. You become inspiration rather than being intubated by thoughts in the wind. 

Keep in mind, this is just my opinion. As one of the millions (billions if you count the writers throughout time) I’m not so inundated in narcissism as to assume there’s only one way to do things. Like any other craft, there will always be a multitude of roads to travel that twist and turn to the same finish-line—completion. That being said, for those of you stuck in your respective purgatory of awaiting inspiration, it may benefit you to alter your thinking and adjust your strategy to allow for inspiration without making it the ‘end all be all’ of your career.  

Believe it or not, you may even find more inspiration with a simple mental push and a dinner-plate packed with effort. #Food4Thought.

Until Next Time,

Antwan Crump

Also available on Google Books.

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