Courting the Muse

Artistic expression is a spiritual activity. First their is the quiet waiting for inspiration from your muse. Then the careful nurturing of the thread of truth that emerges from your silent anticipation. The reverently teasing the truth from the light that illuminates the vision. The vision, in turn, elevating the spirit to a fevered pitch of ecstasy.

It sounds pretentious, doesn’t it? I’ve never experienced artistic expression in quite that organized a fashion. In my experience it is passionate chaos. There is the endorphin rush when things are coming together but that is offset by the struggle to manifest the product of your inspiration, whether that is a story, a song, a painting, or some other artifact of being touched by the divine.

That is what the ancients thought happened to artists. They were touched by divinity and gifted with an alternative perspective on the world. The spirits that motivated them were called their genius. It was the genius that provided the insight and talent to produce their art. This made it easier on the artist when they woke up on some days and couldn’t do  what had been so effortless the day before. By attributing the creativity to the genius, the artist was allowed his human foibles. Without the constant pressure to produce, the artist was able to maintain the relaxed atmosphere that encourages creativity and avoid the depression of creative block.

Alas, I don’t believe in independent spirits that motivate my art. I do have a process aimed at reproducing that of the ancients and their genii. It starts with sitting quietly and relaxing. At some point I put my hands on the keyboard and start to type. If I have engaged my inspiration, what comes forth is coherent and expressive. If not, I keep typing. Writing is a craft as well as an art and by virtue of writing coherent sentence, I become a better writer.

Often, after a couple of sentences I hit upon the essence of what I am writing about. Sometimes after I’ve written a couple of pages I decide that what I’ve written is not what I intend to say. At that point, I save it as a draft so that I can come back to it later to see if there is anything to be salvaged from a previous draft.

More frequently, the second time around I am in a better frame of mind and manage to produce an acceptable work. I won’t say that every one is a sterling creation but they do help me understand myself and my options. They give me inspiration to avoid the pitfalls of the past. And sometimes, I do write something that I am proud of. Those incidents are happening more and more frequently as time goes past and I have more experience writing.

Sweet dreams, don’t forget to tell the ones you love that you love them, and most important of all, be kind.