Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A Fresh Take on the Inspired/Hard Work Dichotomy

There's a great posting over at Good Letters on the classic question of whether writing is inspired or whether it's something you do, whether or not the muse shows up. I've never been the person who can entirely drudge along whether or not the muse shows up. There are limits, and at least some writings definitely need their simmering time. On the other hand, I find deadlines to be a remarkably effective tool, at times, for summoning inspiration.

In my view, the mix is there, and quite mysterious. Sometimes I wonder whether I try to control the process too much or too little--I'm usually wondering about one or the other of these variations, in some form. Writing practices are often a good way to balance the two sides, I've found, though there are days I totally forget about them in the heat of deadline-stress.

I'd talk more about this, but I have a bus to Chicago to catch in a few hours to go to a conference, and I'm still finishing up my presentations based on the papers I wrote. Since I won a Top 3 Student paper award for one of them (woohoo!), I'm feeling the pressure to be impressive... Ah well, as Eliot said, "For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business."

Since my laptop died a few months ago, I won't have it with me, so likely I won't be posting again until at least Saturday, when I'll be back. Have a good few days!

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