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Friday, February 25, 2011

Dusty and Dirty and On The Road to Inspiration


Inspiration is wonderful when it happens, but the writer must develop an approach for the rest of the time... The wait is simply too long.
  - Leonard Bernstein


See those legs up there? Yeah, the ones covered with dirt and dust and sweat. The ones that, given how stinkin' tired they were before we left, came this close to going unshaven. Yep. Hair long enough to French braid. THOSE legs.


Those grimy babes had been through it. Spent the day wandering across rocks and dirty trails, back tracking through thorny brambles. Slogging across beaver dams, dodging little kids who were going faster than they were, scrambling to the edge of a cliff to prevent a WAY too enthusiastic eight year-old from tumbling off  when he wanted to pick a flower, dragging nieces away from leech-filled water, then watching as their older sister went in anyway, and finally tumbling back down the whole way only to get pelted with pine-cones by boys who had run down and hidden out on a ginormous rock waiting for just that moment.


See that path those legs are staring down? That's the path that the owner of the legs thought was the end of the trail. Surely we were at the top. Surely it couldn't be THAT much further. Holy smokes. It was like we were at the beginning again.


Does this sound familiar, like, at all? Because I'm pretty sure this describes the creative process. Or at least mine. I've restarted the book I'm writing at least eight times. Then I got sick of that and started writing the middle, slipping and stumbling, saving my protagonist from near-death over and over again. I was sure each time that I'd found the beginning of the trail, only to round a bend and discover a new trail. Same thing happened when I thought I'd come to the end. And then I got pelted with pinecones.


I think Mr. Bernstein up there was onto something. You've gotta find a process for the times when you're not inspired, so you don't spend all your time running around in circles getting your legs dirty. And I do believe that process, once you grab onto it, will eventually lead you back to inspiration


Or maybe all that running around is the process--the thing that builds the inspiration in the first place. The thing that leads you to the moment when all the disconnected work and reasoning finds a common thread, and a beam of light appears, and a heavenly chorus sings, and suddenly there is clarity, and you have it.


Maybe it's really about just embracing your process. Embracing you. And not worrying about whether it's pretty, or organized, or makes sense, or matches everyone else. My legs were dirty, but they got me to the top of the mountain. And maybe next time I'll have learned a thing or two, and there will be fewer smudges. Or at least a shorter path.


The approach you develop for "the rest of the time"? I think it's accepting YOU.


(Tune in tomorrow when I bravely post the nauseating piece that I ran around the trail being inspired with before I gagged and wrote this instead. It's all part of the process, right?)


:)

15 comments:

Robin said...

Julia Cameron in one of her books says something like this: If you want to make great art, you have to give yourself permission to make a lot of not great art.

I have to keep reminding myself of that.

Janiel Miller said...

Julia Cameron is pretty awesome. And yeah, it's hard to be okay with that. But it's also nice to have the permission.
Thanks Rob!

Ashley said...

Thanks for visiting! Woo-hoo to those legs and embracing yourself! It is so easy to get wrapped up in flaws (well at least for me) that I forget to celebrate my body's abilites and accomplishments. Thanks for the reminder.

M said...

Thank you for following!

I'm following back :)

Have a great weekend

Heather said...

Thank you so much for visiting, commenting, and following me at Teens and a Toddler! I am following you back. Your blog is adorable...ok well the gnome in the corner creeps me out a bit, but I don't like clowns either. LOL
I have a fear of inanimate objects coming to life (I don't like the claw feet on furniture either). I am a special one.
I look forward to reading more!

Toesthattwinkle! said...

the creative process is time consuming and each end does leave to a new path. research also goes the same way, each lead opens a new subject!

mskanorado said...

Really like your blog! Thanks for coming by my blog and commenting and following me! I am doing the same with your lovely blog! I totally know what you mean about going in circles - I have that feeling sometimes often! When I do, I try to discover something I hadn't on my first time around! ;)

Russo said...

Janiel, are those your legs in the pic because a)the pic rocks and b) killer legs.

Anyways, I love the idea of this post. Accepting yourself. I am way hard on myself, so I needed this post big time.

Elle Strauss said...

Hiking is great for inspiration--despite all the obstacles, I can tell you had a good time!

Angela said...

Great blog. Looking forward to reading more. Thanks for liking Mommy Time Out

Forty and Trying to be Fab said...

you have a lovely blog and wonderful writing. Thanks for following my blog. I'm now following you too and looking forward to reading more.

Janiel Miller said...

Thanks all of you for your visits and wonderful comments! It's nice to know there are so many creative, fabu people out there. I'd love to hear your tricks for getting the inspiration back in those moments when it leaves you. (Unless you are so inspired it never leaves you. In that case, I'll just bow in your general direction twice daily.)

Janiel Miller said...

Heather, I'm sorry our gnome creeps you out! :) I'm with you on clowns--disturbing. Maybe we should have a little de-gnoming therapy tab at the top of our blog . . .

densleybrandis said...

kick butt foto.Scott loves 2 hike.

Maegan Langer said...

Comparing myself to others is like DEATH. ("How come that writer can finish a first draft in 3 weeks and I can't? What's wrong with ME??") All it does is make me feel inferior. It's totally about learning the way I work, and then embracing it.