The New Year always seems to start with new goals, new projects, even resolutions to better ourselves in some way or another. But of course, a few weeks in, many of those fall by the wayside and we’re left in a funk, compounded by feelings of failure for capitulating so soon!
Especially in a creative endeavor such as writing, those little demons can wreak havoc on our psyches. And there is, really, only one antidote to all of that: Inspiration. Elusive at times, but oh-so-joyful when we’re in the midst of her spell.
The word tracks back to mean, literally, in spirit. Those times when our fingers take off on their own, whirling through the keyboard (or pen to paper) and some outside force drives the story, the characters, and we find ourselves in the zone. Everyone knows this feeling. We live for it.
But of course, so much of our time as writers is spent slogging through the muck and the mire, cubby-holed-up in a quiet office somewhere, alone, trying to cajole that dang muse to get us back to the song and dance. As we all know as well, writing is a lonely endeavor. It’s a lot of hard work. From that point of initial inspiration to finishing a manuscript, well, we pretty much all could write a book on what’s required. And sometimes I wonder why I just didn’t take up basket weaving (not that, mind you, I have any knowledge that it’s easier!).
I often think, when in that sort of trudging through the slough of despond, about a little book I read a zillion years ago called Hind’s Feet on High Places. The main character slogs metaphorically and literally through, and every time she’s about to give up, she’s told, “Call the shepherd!” This is a spiritual book, and I’m not here to proselytize for any religion. In fact, I tend to think of the shepherd as that illusive muse called Inspiration.
And when she just won’t seem to come, I’ve learned to submit to the slogging. Yep, to just keep putting one foot in front of the other, to quit putting an emotional value (such as, ‘You can’t write your way out of a paper sack!’ etc.) on the process, and to just write. Of course, often in revision I can easily tell those un-inspired places. Big deal. They can always be rewritten, with renewed vigor, and funny enough, often end up some of the best pieces of all. When Inspiration leaves, I’ve come to trust that she always at some point returns.
I’m mentioning all this now because after two years of that slogging, our new book, WHAT’S WRONG WITH MY FAMILY? And How to Live Your Best Life Anyway came out this week! What fun. And yep, a new book published always causes Inspiration to sing. It makes all the drudgery worth it, all the blood, sweat, tears (and wanting to shake my co-author! LOL) now be viewed with rose-colored glasses. A book!
Of course this gives a shot in the arm for new writing projects as well. But I know, sometime down the road, I’ll again hit a big ocean of mud. When I do, I’ll “feel” my way back to this day, the emotions surging up to propel me into this place of euphoria. And then, once again, Inspiration will sing.