So what do you do when you’ve been running around for 16 hours straight? Sleep. I really want to sleep. But I also wanted to write something here today. I didn’t know if I would have the time, and I haven’t really. But now, just before I collapse for the evening: I’m writing this.
It isn’t much, but it’s something. Sometimes you don’t have the privilege of choosing not to do something. Obligations and duty calls, and you just have to roll with the punches. That means you actually won’t have time to do all the things you want to get done, and it’s tempting to just leave it at that. But I figured I’d write this post. And it isn’t a bad topic, really: I sat down at the computer and I’m writing something, and that means I’ve written more than I would have otherwise. So even though I couldn’t write what I wanted to write, at the very least: I’ve flexed my fingers.
Tourists shuffled after the guide and her yellow umbrella. The view of the bay was stunning from the lookout, and everybody took out their cameras ready to ruin perfectly good landscape photos by posing in them themselves with wide smiles, thumbs up and sweat-spots.
Larry traveled by himself, so he’d have to wait for some of the others to take their own pictures, and ask if they’d take one of him. He leaned on the railing and looked out at the town below and the bay. A lone rowboat floated on the calm water. He could se the silhouette of a man holding a fishing rod in the little boat. Larry envied the fisherman, he was tired of the cramped tourbus and the loud talk all the time. Perhaps he would take up fishing when he got home?
He wanted to take a picture of the fisherman, and began fumbling with his camera when a movement by the rowboat caught his eye. Larry had assumed that the dark spot in the surface was deeper water, but… it was moving. He saw the huge shadow move towards the little fisherman. He wanted to call out, but there was no way he would hear him so far away. He turned back to the others.
– Miss Smith! There is a big shadow in the water! he called to the tour guide.
She waved back to him.
– Be with you in a moment, Larry! she said.
Larry looked out at the bay again. The shadow was directly below the boat now.
– Miss Smith! he called again and moved towards her.
– What is it? she asked as she met him.
Larry grabbed her arm and walked quickly back to the railing.
– That big shadow it moving! The fisherman is in danger!
– What fisherman?
Miss Smith sounded confused and Larry turned back to the water with his heart in his throat. There was no little rowboat, no fisherman and no shadow. Only the waves that rippled in the water bore witness that something had happened.
It’s difficult to get anything done. Especially if you don’t really have to. I spent so many years thinking of different stories, writing a chapter or perhaps a first act and then putting it down when the going gets tough.
Even now: I planned to work on my second draft this September and October, but this is September 6th, and I haven’t even started. I wrote the first draft during camp nanowrimo this summer, and it was all for that lovely little graph on my page. Each time It’s such a small thing, but it worked, I’m both delighted and ashamed to say. Is that really all that was needed? A visual aid?
I guess the key is that it is external, and it is what it is no matter what. If I have written 1000 words, I have written 1000 words. No more, no less. I think that gives me an anchor to reality. When writing you really have to get into your own head, and it is easy to get lost in there. Ideas that I’d rather write come from nowhere, I spend hours thinking of names for places or characters, and I fuss over details.
But having to keep a move on helps me get out of that rut. I can’t spend two hours on figuring out what this walk-on characters name is, I just have to call him Bob and keep going. But then September comes, and I realize that Bob isn’t a good name for this character. I don’t have much experience with revision, so I don’t really know how to find that carrot or stick to keep me moving.
Where do you get your inspiration? And how important is it? Creativity and the artist has long been connected in peoples minds by this misty veil of mystery. Inspiration is seen as a sudden flash of genius that will rocket your art into existence. This idea is beautiful bu it can also be detrimental to aspiring artists who spend all their time staring out a window, waiting for that flash of inspiration.
The trend nowadays seem to shift more towards demystifying inspiration, and placing a lot more value on the actual work of creating. The nitty gritty: techniques, developing a routine, helpful equipment and so on… This sort of environment among people and online has helped me a lot in developing and in my attempts at disciplining myself. I’m not afraid of the mystery of the artist. I feel like “the artist” as a concept is beginning to be more like the greeks concept of a painter or a poet: a craftsman. Simply someone who’s good at their craft. A part of me really like that idea: creating things out of thoughts, feelings and impressions like a potter might make a vase.
I do think inspiration is very important to, don’t get me wrong. But I feel like it is more of a continuous thing, the process of living is the same as finding inspiration: Meeting people and talking to them, taking in new impressions trough art, nature, philosophy or science. And as I work more and more like that potter making a vase, these experiences turn into material for new stories.
It’s difficult sometimes to know wether my prioritizing is reasonable or not. Am I spending to much time in one area? Have I taken on to much? Am I wasting to much time? Right now I’m trying to get some sort of overview of this semester, and find that the minute I feel like I have nailed something down: something else pops up with a deadline I can’t possibly meet now.
In all of that I feel like it’s difficult to justify sitting down and spending time I could have used on something else on writing. Even if I actually do sit down, it can be difficult to concentrate and write anything. Stress and guilt get in my way. Am I a bad person for saying no to meeting my friends to spend time writing? Should I be more diligent as a student? Probably yes? To an extent, at least.
All my life I’ve hated that image of the artist who only cares about their projects and don’t give a damn about anybody else. Yet now I’m starting to see the point of that. Of course, I don’t want to be a bad person, or be terrible to others. But prioritizing what you do is important to get anywhere. That was much easier for me this past summer, when there where few distractions. But now I have to find a whole new balance. I’m glad I had that experience this summer, though, because it made me realize that actually choosing your art over other things yields results.
I really love to write. I feel like I can reach a part of me when I write that I otherwise wouldn’t be able to. This past summer I spent a lot of time writing, and I feel like I learned a lot. Now the autumn is setting in with friends and studies looming over me, but I still really want to be able to write and feel like I am making progress.
So I figured I would start this blog. The goal is to reflect a little bit every day, I suppose. To be conscious about the way I prioritize, what I focus on, how I am doing and wether I am making any fundamental progress. Here’s hoping this won’t be the only post.
I really want to write the second draft of the story I wrote this summer. Ideally I would be doing this in September and October (I’m already a day behind my daily goal, but lets not focus on that).
In addition I hope to keep up with weekly writing exercises for my writing-group. They’re not big, but they’re fun. And it is really helpful to be able to talk through the exercises with the group.
Not sure if anyone will ever read this, but if you are: Hi, I guess.