Why inspiration doesn’t appear in the mirror
Inspiration. It’s one of those overused and somewhat clichéd words favoured by life coaches and personal trainers to, well, inspire clients to want to be better versions of their current selves, in whatever form that may take.
1. the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.
2. the quality of being inspired.
3. a person or thing that inspires.
4. a sudden brilliant or timely idea.
Shit. I’m currently 0-4. What one uses as inspiration is a very personal thing, and something that inspires you may bore me to tears, while something that enlivens yours truly may have you questioning how many sandwiches are actually missing from my picnic basket. Regular readers of TDoT will be well aware that my inspiration to write has been AWOL for quite some time now. I’ve mused (pun intended) about the disappearance of my beloved Thalia and how she has absconded with my enthusiasm to scribe. Upon further investigation, it would appear that she’s also taken a bottle of Scotch and one of my favourite socks. Who the fuck takes one sock? Wherever she is, I hope she’s enjoying herself. If you happen to stumble across a beautiful woman wearing a single plaid sock and swigging directly from a bottle of 30-year-old single malt, please let me know.
In her absence, I’ve attempted to draw inspiration from other sources. I’ve tried to immerse myself in new ideas and concepts, and I’ve spent some serious time revisiting things that I love, yet none of it is giving me enough of a jolt to start scribbling and constructing prose. I’m hoping that I don’t have to resort to using a car battery and nipple clamps to force a surge of creativity back into me – I saw it in a movie once, and while the protagonist certainly seemed inspired to tell his captors everything that they wanted to hear, it didn’t look all that fun. And let’s face it: if anyone happens to see me sitting on my balcony connecting jumper cables to my body while I smoke a Cohiba and consider the tongue of my newest whisky , there’s a better than average chance that an encounter with a police helicopter won’t be too far away.
The closest I’ve come to creative stimulation recently was on the CityGlider yesterday. I watched a woman assessing herself in a compact mirror that she’d pulled from her handbag, before seemingly adjudging that starting at her reflection in the bus window was the way to go. It led me to hypothesise about mirrors, both literal and metaphorical, and how what we see in them depends not only on the physical qualities of the reflective surface, but also on what we expect to see when we look. Did she not see what she wanted to see upon initial inspection? A few ideas and partial paragraphs started to bounce around between my ears, and I even had the closing pièce de résistance screaming at me before the lights were turned out on my inspiration. Try as I may for the rest of the evening, I couldn’t turn my supposition into anything more than a few dozen poorly structured sentences. Thalia’s absence had bitten me on the ass once again.
For me at present, writing is akin to a lighter that’s run out of butane – there may be an inconsequential, quasi impotent spark, but there’s no ignition. It might be time to buy a new lighter.