They say not to wait for it.
It’s a more fickle mistress than fame.
If you have any desire to do art of any kind, you learn pretty quickly that you should not count on inspiration to strike before you start to work. Even though the same thing applies to all professions – you don’t see doctors waiting for the mood to strike before they see patients, or do you? – it’s the artists that are being told, over and over, not to rely on their inspiration.
Artists are also those constantly being asked where they get their ideas from, too. They are, after all, the professional dreamers.
So what happens when inspiration is literally gone?
I’m not talking about that general blank feeling you get as you sit down at your desk in the morning (or your park bench, stencil, computer, favourite seat on the train to work, magical zazen cushion, whatever). I’m talking about when the last thing you want to do is create, when your very soul seems to have been poisoned.
Every time I see the news, the sickness seems to grow worse. No matter how much time I spend around good people, doing good work, all I have to do is look around and I will find another horrible tragedy lurking at the corner. What’s the point, I ask. Why bother making art?
It just seems so self-indulgent.
Unfortunately, I don’t have a skill that would make me otherwise useful in such times. If I were a medic, or a soldier, or a diplomat, I’d probably be too busy to sit around and wonder about my purpose in the world. As is, I have to make a decision: will I be burying my head in the sand further?
I don’t think I can.
However much it hurts to look, it hurts more to pretend everything is okay.
So while it’s true that inspiration doesn’t strike down from heaven, I will also not find it by navel-gazing and playing the staring game with my laptop. I’ll have to dig it out – kicking and screaming – out of the debris of life.