Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Writer With a Capital "W"

This rose bush grows up through the center of a hedge-bush in front of our house. Every time they trim it (like yesterday), the head gets chopped off the rose bush, but it keep sneaking roses out the top and front of the hedge. I love it.

I started out writing a post on my insecurities about writing, specifically my desire to do more of it, but my lack of inspiration or motivation. I asked questions like, "Can I be a "real" writer (the kind with a capital "W") if I don't have stories burning inside me begging to be written?" I even tried really hard to set aside my excuses and face up to the fact that I just plain haven't made time for writing in my life.

And that's where I stopped. And then I erased it all. Because that's really what it comes down to, isn't it? I can say I haven't written because I haven't had the stories, but perhaps I haven't had the stories because I haven't been writing. I haven't been developing my craft, so I wouldn't be prepared even if a story came along.

I tried to go further in this post just now, but again, I've erased it. It gets too whiny. So I'll ask this instead: What are your thoughts on artistic inspiration? Is a bit of talent enough to pursue artistic endeavors with, or do you have to have passion for it as well?

I know the answer to this probably depends on the person, but I'm interested in seeing others' thoughts on it.

5 comments:

  1. I personally believe that talent will only take you so far, the rest is hard work and dedication. If someone doesn't make the time to develop their talents then they can't expect genius. I think inspiration is directly connected. True, powerful and CONSISTANT inspiration is only given to those who work and strive towards that through prayer, pondering, scripture study and the like. Since I believe that artistic inspiration comes from the same source as spiritual inspiration. Why would God bless someone with inspiration if they weren't doing their best to be prepared and ready for that inspiration?

    I personally have always wished I had spent more time and effort on the piano, dancing etc. I could blame the lack of sheer talent... but really it comes down to the time and effort I didn't put into it.

    P.S. I love your thought provoking posts, makes me ponder more :)

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    1. Thanks for your thoughts, Shelley! I didn't even know you read my blog. :-)

      I agree with you on the time and effort thing. I guess my next question would be, is it worth pursuing something that you don't feel a driving need to do? For example, is it worth it to say, "I want to be a writer, so I'm going to try to make myself to write even though I don't feel any burning need to write"?

      I've been reading thoughts from different artists, writers, etc. and they always seem to lead me to the thought that if you don't have an overwhelming passion for the art you're trying to create, why bother? I've been told I have some talent for writing, and it's something I enjoy and think is worthwhile, and I have a passion for reading good writing, but I don't know that I have passion for the act of PRODUCING good writing, if that makes sense. The only thing I can think of that's ever produced a motivating, driving passion in me is dance. When I danced, I didn't care if it was hard, I didn't care if I had bruises and sore muscles, I didn't care if it exhausted me. I felt that I HAD to dance, even if I wasn't the best dancer around. I practiced all the time, not just when I was in a ballroom, but in my living room, or on the sidewalk even.

      I think about my writing "mentor" who told me she used to sneak out the window onto the roof to write after her husband and kids were all asleep, because she HAD to write. I think about in the book "My Name is Asher Lev" where an artist tells Asher if he can do anything else besides art, he should, but if he HAS to be an artist, then do it.

      So what about those of us who don't feel we HAVE to do anything, but part of us wants to?

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  2. Oh man. I SO know what all these questions feel like. Remember my long rambly email about how I have felt the Lord was prompting me to write over the last year? Well, that was in response to several prior years of going around and around on these questions. For me, the "passion" comes and goes. I don't ALWAYS have stories begging to be written. I only do if I'm actively writing. For several of those years, I was secretly afraid that I had lost my talent for writing fiction, because I remembered times when it seemed like the stories were piling up in my brain, and in contrast to that - I wasn't getting anything. That's why the selkie story was such a surprise. Then, once I started working seriously on a novel again, I was shocked to feel how much the ideas came rushing back. Now I have a long list of story ideas on my desktop, all from things that have come to me in the last year. It almost feels like if I open myself up to the inspiration and put in the groundwork (by actually working on stuff), the ideas come. If I don't, they don't.

    As for the passion aspect of it - like I said, that goes and comes. I've had times in my life where I was totally passionate and felt like you describe your mentor - that I HAVE to write, and have to write LOTS, or else the words will just explode out of me. With my blog, for example, there are times where that list of prospective posts gets loooong, and the ideas just crowd in on top of each other faster than I have time to get them down. But then there are times where I'm seriously scrounging for things to write, and definitely wouldn't write ANYTHING if I hadn't been blogging long enough that I know at least a few people will be on my back if I don't put SOMETHING up. ;) And with novels - there are periods where I really feel it, where I feel the words spooling through my head all day long and I feel like the characters are more real than I am, and I'm just dying to write them down. And then... there are times when I can think of about a hundred things I'd rather do, including scrubbing my tub, rather than write. Writing feels like pulling teeth and I spend the whole time wondering why someone as talentless and dumb as me would keep trying to do something as silly as write.

    For me, at least, it's a question of how much I'm actually doing it. Whether or not it's a habit. And it can un-become a habit. For the first years of my marriage I really questioned how seriously I wanted to pursue writing (especially novels, cause they're long!). I was having fun experimenting with other outlets - I sewed a lot, I wanted to try all sorts of different projects, etc. I wasn't sure I honestly wanted to focus so much of my energy on writing. I definitely did NOT feel that "need" to write. And I decided, for that period of time, that was okay. I decided that these things, like everything else, come in seasons. Now, I'm in a season where I DO feel the need to write, a lot. Especially since I'm in the thrall of this new story, it's all I ever feel like I want to do. (Too bad I have a real life that gets in the way of that. ;)) But I know that in a few weeks that will fade, I'll hit a rough spot, and I'll give serious thought again to throwing in the towel.

    I would venture to guess that if you have at some point felt the pull to write - I mean, you did major in English :) - then it probably is a seasons thing for you, too.

    And now that I've left the LONGEST BLOG COMMENT EVER, I'll end by saying that selfishly, I hope you do keep writing, cause I think you're great and I love to read your words. ;)

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    1. Cindy, thank you for your long comment. It's nice to know I'm not alone in asking these questions.

      I realized a bit ago that part of my struggle right now is one of the points you mentioned: Do I really want to focus so much of my energy on writing? Of course, the tired, cynical part of me says, "I don't have any energy to focus, so why bother trying?" I'm sure you've been there, too. ;-)

      Another part of my struggle is that part of me says this is not the season for it, just like it's not the season for dancing, or playing the piano, etc.--I'm in the season of babies and toddlers, and lately that alone seems more than I can handle. But another part of me says I have to have SOMETHING that I do for me. And then I think about just how much work writing is, and I wonder if it would even be worth it if I'm not really passionate about what I'm working on.

      I also tend to get intimidated by looking back on those times when stories swirled in my head. I used to day-dream all the time; these days I don't really day-dream at all, and it makes me feel like part of me's broken. Again, I'm glad I'm not the only one who's faced that.

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    2. Yeah, I don't daydream as much as I used to, either. As a kid and a teenager, I swear I only lived half my life in the real world... the rest was all in my head. I was constantly pretending I was SOMEONE. I used to swear to myself that I would never lose that daydreamy, other-world part of myself when I grew up. And then... I grew up. And I realized that when you are grown up, you do have to spend most of your time and mental energy living in the regular old world. I always think of what Aslan tells Lucy and Edmund at the end of "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" - that they can't come back to Narnia because they need to learn to live in their own world now. I think it's hard (for me at least) to balance being a dreamer, and a writer, with being a real-life grownup as well. I mentioned in my email to you just now that I have been really caught up in this novel revision for the last two weeks and it's taking over my brain. I'm not very good at finding the balance between letting the stories swirl in my head, but still being able to live my real life, too!

      I don't know if any of that makes sense. :)

      Oh, and by the way, I love the story of the rose! You seem to be surrounded by plants that are thriving in strange places. I love the metaphor. :)

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