This is going to be pretty unstructured. Bear with me…
Let me start out by saying that I think this year has been very good, by and large. I can’t complain too much. Sometimes work is stressful, and that sucks, and sometimes things can get gloomy in a long distance relationship, and that sucks, too. But overall, I think this has been a good year. Work is going well. The Scatterbrained Seminarian and I are figuring things out together. I have amazing friends and family, a wonderful roommate, and there are good things on the horizon. Life is good.
Oh yeah, except for that whole writing thing. How did my plan go? Three parts? A big idea and some little ideas? A blog entry a week? Man oh man, it feels like a long time ago. Forty-five weeks later and this will be my 23rd blog entry. Now, I’m not a math guy, but my brother is, and he could double check my calculations here: 45 – 23 < 45.
I really don’t have anyone to blame but myself. I even had a month off work when I was recovering from surgery in which I could have spent just crazy amounts of time writing. I’ve also slipped back into my old, bad habit of calling myself a writer even when I’m not writing, despite having said, all those weeks ago, that I did not get to do that anymore.
There is a well-known aphorism among writers (I know about it because they let me linger outside the window during their Writer Meetings sometimes) that waiting for inspiration is a terrible way to write. Now it seems to me that tapping into one’s creativity is a good way to fill in the gaps when inspiration is running short. But what about when creativity is in short supply as well?
When I was in college, I was an idea factory. Ok, that might be overselling it a bit, (I couldn’t write fiction very well then, either), but things were very different. Better, at least from an intellectual standpoint. I was in an environment where my primary job was to think, and I was surrounded by other people for whom the same was true. When you’re in that environment, it’s nearly impossible not to be creative, and sharp, and clever. Both creativity and inspiration seemed to be infinite.
And it’s not that the people with whom I spend my time aren’t interesting or intelligent — they are — but we also don’t sit around for between four and eight hours every weekday and rap about philosophy or literature or technology or religion. What I’m realizing is that I need that in my life, and I’m worried because I don’t know how to get it back. In school it’s easy. That’s pretty much what school is. But try to create that environment elsewhere and you end up with the potentiality for an awkward, contrived mess.
I’m sorry if this is coming across as scattered and frantic, but I’m feeling pretty scattered and frantic right about now. (This entry is as short on editing as it is on inspiration and creativity).
I don’t know what the fix for this is, but I can’t possibly be the only person who has noticed the “I was more creative when I was in college” phenomenon. Anybody else out there feeling uncreative, confused, and afraid? What do we do? Can we help each other?
I was watching a youtube video this evening of an a capella group called Pentatonix. It was technically not an a capella song, as they were playing string instruments and singing. I learned from a friend that the cellist was discovered by the others while he was playing cello on the street and accompanying it with beatboxing. I looked at a friend of mine (we’re both musicians, and she’s also an artist) and asked her, “Do you ever look at someone like a Greg Patillo or a Pentatonix, people who are truly innovating in their fields, and wish you did something like that?”
I know I do. I want to make something totally new. I want to innovate. But hell, I can’t even write a blog entry a week.
As always, thank you for reading. I’m very sorry that I don’t always honor your continuing readership. More to follow…