I don’t really understand inspiration. At all. They say it can come from anywhere but for me, half the time it seems to come out of nowhere. Out of some deep, dark place inside I can never seen to have faith in. See, I write instinctually. I mean sure, I can plan things out, but my best fiction, the kind I actually have fun writing, isn’t like that at all. I get this idea in my head, some event or some person, and it just… unfolds. Almost by itself, so long as I get my ass behind a keyboard.
This post is a lot like that. I’ve been thinking about it because I’ve been writing a story over the last few days, and I’ve been wondering at how the hell that shit spills out of me. Not the kind I’m impressed with because of its cleverness… I don’t really have an opinion on the quality of it. Instead it’s the kind I’m impressed with because it’s just so fascinating. The blues music I’ve been listening to lately, my infatuation with the occult, with mythologies and religious doctrines…
It turned into a few different ideas and I happened to write it down once the chaos of it all had settled into something I could capture. But I haven’t really been trying to consciously add, subtract, or otherwise engineer the world that’s blossoming in my head. It’s just kind of happening on its own. I started with a description. I described a man about to die. I briefly described his death. Then I described the sensation of falling that came after.
All I’m really doing is describing a sort of movie in my mind… it’s always in flux, at risk of changing suddenly, drastically, but it’s just so powerful. The writing part is effortless because all I have to do to start a scene, a piece of the puzzle, it describe something. And I try to make sure I describe what happens. Then, I’m wondering what happens next and off I go again. I’m truly just at a loss for how it all works. Where it all comes from.
Some of it, or hell, a lot of it is inspired by external things. The music I’ve listened to, the movies and shows I’ve watched, the books I’ve read. But really… that’s only in a manner of speaking. It’s more that they have informed the story, offered the nutrients I use as fuel to shape my own story. It’s completely divorced from any of those external sources that might have had an influence. If all of that is fascinating and informative but isn’t truly inspiration…
Then what is inspiration? Where does it come from?
It seems to be beyond my comprehension. Something I have to dance with, blindly flailing, never really able to pin down a reliable, trustworthy rythm. That unreliable nature is something I myself am guilty of as a person, and seeing it rear its head over and over again in everything I end up caring about is crushing. It scares me. This dance terrifies me because it feels like I might never get it down well enough to make it through a full set of songs.
What if I finally decide to accept something as my dream and I just don’t have it in me to move my feet the way I need to? Balls to all of this because now I’m talking “what ifs” and that’s always a stupid road to go down. It scares me though. Paralyzes me. This latest undertaking, these fictional explorations, is maybe the most satisfying thing I’ve ever done. Maybe the only thing I can ever remember feeling like I’ve got a shot at. Because of my natural talent and love for it.
What I’m More or Less Getting At…
You can’t really control what influences your work. Maybe how, but not what. Everything you have ever been exposed to will inform your writing just as much as your actions, no matter what. There’s not a goddamn thing you can do about it. That might sound like a downer. It is not.
In fact it’s the opposite. It’s freeing. You do not have to worry about your influences, you just have to worry about influencing the way they shine through in your own life. If I wanted to get cute about it I could say you only ever influence people by influence the way you display the things that have infuenced you. Seems a little wordy though. Shorter version: do what comes naturally and have fun.
Inspiration isn’t really all that trustworthy…
I don’t think it even matters though. Screw the muses, the inspiration. I say do what satisfies. Satisfaction is everything. Undertsanding can come later or not at all.
(Mostly written in January)