I had a thought this week about the core of a writer’s inspiration or drive. I used to think there were a few writers that went about their art in an orderly fashion, making little piles and sticky notes of ideas and dreams, thoughts and overheard quirkiness, and they would eventually sit themselves down and make something of these. I couldn’t relate to those folks. I thought I was part of the majority of writers and we were all lunatic geniuses or possessed. A sort of collection of disturbing savants that readers don’t always associate with some of the resulting masterpieces they come to cradle like babies.
Here’s an example: someone sparks an emotion in me and it hooks onto an idea (similar or not) and enforceable yanks my doppelganger (the little shadow-woman that lives inside of me) until it writes it all down … drips it all out, extinguishes the fire. Here’s another example from the opposite side of that spectrum: I get my feelings hurt or I go into a deep depression and the shadow-woman trails me everywhere, looms over me in my sleep, trips me for the hell of it, and generally makes my life a living frightmare until I exorcise whatever daemon in the form of a poem or prose. Either way, I might go for days, weeks even, without a productive writing day, but when it comes there is steam on the windows when my hands leave the keyboard.
Having made contact with a few writers and a poet now, I’m beginning to think there are innumerable kinds of shadow men and women, muses, sticky-note methodology, prompt tooling and daily regimens, possessions, and general mayhem when it comes to the spark that turns a writer’s hand to paper. I don’t understand writers that function differently from me, and that’s okay, I guess.
What’s my point?
If there are possibly as many kinds of … I’ll call them “instigators,” … as there are writers, then maybe it’s like finding a mate? What would my daemons do if I started trying on freewriting non-stop, or turned my radio on every morning and used the first ten words I heard as a prompt? I’m not talking about the occasional dry spell where I try these kinds of things to hunt for my shadow-woman. I simply wonder if Shakespeare would have been Shakespeare if he’d put aside his usual writing method and tried on something else for a year. Maybe some other Bill would have been a household name if he’d tried Shakespeare’s.
But don’t mind me, I also sit around wondering how the author of Annie got away with stealing Dicken’s Oliver Twist story?
They were shapely when they first appeared,
spry and plump with meaning, swift in flow,
sniffing at my eyelids, primed to go.
I stopped moving, still, as each one neared.
Hoped to lure their wild before they feared.
Flanking them in ink, but moving slow,
freshly fallen idea flakes of snow
sprinkled me with shivers as I peered.
Witness to a miracle each time
words caress my head and spring my thought.
Bounding lines, the speeding of my heart,
playing into pens of perfect rhyme.
Form and verse exploring, nearly caught,
out of nowhere, prancing herd of art.
In the darkness of the hollow,
In the wistful of the day,
Comes a gnashing of the Daemon
And the trouncing of the Bay.
Leaves a mark upon the features;
Plants a hook into the soul.
Wants for loathing or self-hatred -
Wants for wrecking of the lull.
Choose the sinews of the monster -
Horse of death, devoid of light.
If you mount its mangy hackles
It will drag you into night.
Little solitude can linger
At a time depression fraught.
Either gallops gloom of gloaming
Or a crafty concept caught.
Makes for drowsy or for writing.
Curl it in or fight it out:
Tender tears to taint and tarnish,
Fiendish fierceness flail and flout.
Choose the dark and dangerous Daemon -
Vapor’s Muse of shadow’s glare.
Touch its fissured flesh of genius,
Share its mind, but have a care.
Whirling skirmish with a dark muse.
Wrestling pen, now paper stained.
Bleeds a vicious prose or poem;
Heals the heart and mind, once pained.
There is a well – a reservoir that stores the great and lofty ideas of a writer. Its depth requires an air tank and its miles from shore to shore – a sturdy vessel. And while this repository of “what ifs,” insight, and observation is easily navigated while driving, waking, or standing in the shower … it does not lend itself to a map nor does it beacon in lucid moments at the keyboard. This wealthy ocean, this Shangri-La cool drink of creativity, exists in just that moment, that exact spot in the time-space continuum, where fear flees and boldness declares white squalls of edgy inspiration – drowning the willing victim in new worlds and unexplored feelings. A fickle sea when set as a destination. A happy grave when found in distracted efforts into Otherland. To die a little in that resting violent sea of throbbing neurons … every writer longs for that little bit of death each time they sit lively to perform their art.
the wideness of my headspace
yawns the hunger open
the coffee slides
sly glances of bright outside
push into my groggy
cold whispers my skin
where to begin
a magic show swallowed my genius
disappeared my idea bodies
scratching inward i dig for the prisoners
dreaded yearnings seek
for letters ... words ...
a string of story
to explain my empty.