Where do those brief spells of inspiration go? It seems that the things which really drive me to create only come to me when I'm in no position to do so.
Writing is definitely the worst offender in this. I clearly remember twice yesterday during work, and several times the day before, where I thought, "now there's something to write about". I can still recall the meat of one, but it is empty of the enveloping need to create. Where does that passion go?
This is something which has bothered me since leaving school, and only gotten worse as my life has progressed further from the point when I could justify spending all day lounging around the house doing nothing but writing or painting when the mood struck me - and often painfully aware of my personal failings when there was no such creative outlet to keep my mind occupied. Especially when I was in school, I would grab those absurd thoughts and desires, and write as though possessed for the rest of the class, into the break, and often back into the next class. The words would pour out of me, unbound, uncensored, uncaring of their worth. The joy I felt afterwards, reading over something that I had created that was unique - if not all that good - was worth every consequence of ignoring the class. To be happy was a rare treat those days, and for it to be caused by my own hand...
Now it is often a struggle to write out more than a few lousy paragraphs, and even that may take me an hour. I grasp at words, ponder at my intentions, wonder at the thoughts of the reader... I would much prefer to write prolifically, as I did before, and return to each piece to weed out the garbage and malarky. Perhaps a good exercise would be to finally settle on editing, revising, and continuing the 82nd storyline?
Ah, and that brings us to the second issue, at which I've hinted already.
I know that a good deal of this reservedness is caused by my fear of the reader, which, in my case, is almost completely limited to my friends. This is a much larger pressure on me now than it was when I began writing. In fact, some of my early pieces may have been posted simply because I knew they were too much, and could not tell the difference between what I wanted to censor for my sake and what I thought I should censor for the sakes of others. I pushed such things out into the wilds of the internet because I was thumbing my nose at propriety, daring anyone to be offended. While that is a valid path in art, it is not necessarily what drives me, personally, and I feel it's disingenuous to act as though it does.
How to find that balance, between keeping true to oneself and hiding one's more unpleasant thoughts? Are a pseudonym or completely unbridled truth the only answers?
Curious that I jumped straight to that branch of the topic. My issue now is not that I'm worried about censoring myself, but rather that I'm simply embarrassed to write at all. The bits and pieces which I have worked on fitfully over the last year or two are certainly nothing divine. I won't be releasing them to accolades and fans starving for more. But why do I continually find myself embarrassed by what I can do?
At its core, this problem is one which I've heard from artists over and over again. You have certainly heard the opinion espoused before: "I am my own harshest critic." Especially when these moods strike. There is nothing you could say about my writing that would cause me surprise. This makes for an easy time reading critiques, but only because the negativity of what is said is already long present, a sopping-wet blanket carried on my shoulders at all times until the chill is familiar, if not pleasant.
How odd that this feeling of utter worthlessness prior to and during the process can still be somewhat tampered when looking back over a completed work. Like a blog post that began as frustratingly slapping at the keyboard, and turned into my most successful rambling in years.
Important life decisions are always a chaotic time in my head. Which is not to say that the rest of my life is sunshine and puppy farts, but big events bring with them a much greater amount of static-brain--when my thoughts buzz through my mind so fast that I never have more than a fleeting opportunity to think them through. Everything I need to accomplish at the time gets strafed by doubts, hopes, fears, and distractions trying their damnedest to get the rest of me to shut the hell up for a few peaceful minutes. Clarity becomes more rare, and the part of me that is always asking to please just curl up in the corner gets louder and more persistent.
The new year brought with it one of the most momentous of such moments for me: the move to be closer to the natural world, to a quieter place. In a way I suppose it was partly just fulfilling my hermit-y-er side, but there were some of those scattered hopes and dreams along with that placation. Desires to do more to reduce my impact on the world, become more self-sustaining and -sustainable; to contribute in a broader sense to the society which I revolve between despising and embracing.
Or, in a broader sense, to create. I felt stifled, where I was. Not from the city, not really, but rather from the pressing of other selves onto my own. I'm not perfect. I can be petty and spiteful and vengeful and selfish, but I nonetheless feel a constant drive to embrace the people around me. I'm compelled to give them my time and attention, when all I may want is to shut out the world and play with my toys (whatever form those may take at the moment). My time in the city showed me that - unlike life in Owen Sound had led me to believe--I did not hate humanity. I may be overwhelmed by disgust at times, sickened by the wrath and greed of people, but in general I'm empathic. Human-pride and inclusivity can move me nearly to tears in the most absurd of situations, and on a more personal level, I just enjoy being around my friends and their friends, and uniting in nothing more than being in the same room without hating each other.
And I've lost my train of thought... I like people, when they aren't being monstrous. And that led me to too much fraternizing, slowing the already glacial crawl of my creative output. I miss the close companionship of my friends, without a doubt, but this wonderful age of communication means that I'm really not all that far removed, and our living space means that our door can be (almost) always open when the distance can be overcome.
Of course, none of this will have been for anything if I don't put my foot down. My first couple of weeks were full of settling in: to the new house, the new work, the new situation. Now I find myself again falling into the same familiar thoughts. Why aren't I writing? Why aren't I creating? Why aren't I doing?
Along with these familiar thoughts, I've been starting to notice their accompanying feelings, the self-reproach and loathing breasting the horizon. For what may be the first time in my life, I've put my foot down and said "Then just fucking do it already!" What good has the railing against my self ever done me? What excuses do I have to bring to the discussion this time? I've excised myself from my greater distractions, at the cost of the proximity of my friends and peers, and if all I can do is to continue to bemoan my lack of drive, then I'll have done it all for naught.
I'm a big boy now, and if I want something done, by golly I'm going to get off my ass and do it.
Unless, of course, I can do it while on my ass. Work smart, not hard.
A postscript for any of my friends in Owen Sound: You mean as much to me as those I've more recently moved from, but you were few and far between in a cesspool that seemed to be doing its best to drown me in human shit.