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?