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!
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
A Fresh Take on the Inspired/Hard Work Dichotomy
Labels: academic writing, inspiration, spirituality and creativity, writing practices, writing process
I'm a writer, an incurable reader, a narrative theorist, a media researcher, a scholar/author/writer/consultant, a PK, and the Queen of Soup Making. I write a lot, and I've taught a wide range of topics in universities. Along my journey I've picked up a PhD in Communication from Purdue and 2 degrees in English. I've been turning my ideas about communication as author-audience relationships into a communication paradigm that can be applied to a wide range of situations. I'm also writing a historical mystery series. I'm a member of Sisters in Crime, and the co-chair of the Mystery and Detective Fiction Caucus of the Popular Culture Association. My MA thesis focused on connections between T. S. Eliot and Thoreau, who each wondered about how to remain still and still moving. Before I went to grad school, I spent 7 years working for a division of HarperCollins Publishers.