Being Uninspired

It happens. But to anyone of a creative nature–artists, musicians, writers, etc.–it can’t be brushed off that easily. Lack of inspiration is a not a good place to be; it’s a place to be avoided. It’s stressful and soul-crushing. You’re overwhelmed by a feeling of worthlessness. . .

Did I get your attention?

I’m not really uninspired. Other than it’s taken me two days to think of something to blog about. Some people call it writer’s block, but that’s not the case, considering I’ve written 8,000 words this week so far. It’s more, “What do you guys want to read about?”

I’ve written about what does inspire me: my fascination with espionage, my love of history and politics, the desire to portray strong women. I’ve written about the joys and pitfalls of the writing life: finishing a book, starting a book, marketing a book, being my own publicist.

Sometimes, though, you simply question why you do this? Why do I spend hours in the heads of make-believe people, relating their make-believe lives, dealing with their make-believe problems. Believe me, I have plenty of my own.

Partly because writing is cathartic. Got a problem? Let a character have the same problem and on paper (or the keyboard) have them work out the problem. Got an issue you feel needs attention? Write about it and educate people. Got a person or family member who pisses you off? Write them into a novel and create an appropriate comeuppance for them. Don’t like the current way of the world? Create your own world, populate it with people you like, have them deal with conflict and conquer their enemies. Don’t like your job? Write a book or a story about your perfect job with a main character that will remind people of you. Unlucky in love? Write a romance where a happy-ever-after is mandatory.

I’m not saying writing cures everything, but it goes a long way for your mental and physical health. At least it does mine and most other writers I know. We write because we have stories to tell, and the telling of them can heal our souls or maybe, just maybe help heal someone else’s.

It’s a big responsibility. It’s one thing to write for yourself and know no one’s ever going to see it. It’s entirely another matter to write fully knowing someone else is going to see it and pay you money for doing so. Heavy. And hard to balance writing for yourself and writing something another person wants to read.

All I know is stories have bounced around in my head since I was barely able to read. My cousins and I would act out those stories and theirs, too. Today they call that creative play; we simply called it fun. My cousin Johnny’s “stories” were about World War II. (This was a long time ago.) Mine were about horses. My cousin Cathy’s were about dolls and famous people. Pretty much a good slice of the 1960s demographic.

I can almost pinpoint the time when those stories went from bouncing in my head to flowing onto paper. Maybe third grade. You remember. At the beginning of the week, you got a list of spelling words. By Friday you had to turn in an assignment where you used each one correctly in a sentence. At some point, I got the idea of making the sentences relate, again about horses. After a few weeks of this, my teacher told me to “just write sentences.” She lost my respect.

This could also have been my start at overachieving. I’d write one set of blah sentences for her and another set of related sentences about. . . Yeah, horses. I’d turn in the former and keep the latter.

My writing was fueled by my constant reading. If a book inspired me, I’d write my own pale imitation. If a story transported me to another time and place, I tried that, too. If a television show had great characters, I wrote what’s now called fanfic. So, now, enter another teacher, seven years later.

I carried a composition book everywhere and wrote stories in all my spare time. One day something in English class was boring the life out of me, so I took out the composition book and picked up where I’d left off on a Man from U.N.C.L.E. story. I figured the teacher would think I was studiously taking notes. Ah, no. She took the notebook from me, glanced over it, took it back to her desk, and continued the class. The next day she asked me to stay after class.

“You’ve got a talent for writing, but. . .” and she explained about plagiarism. “Keep writing. I’ll be happy to read what you write and help you with it. Just don’t do it in my class.” She kept her word. Thank you, Vera McInnes.

Hmmm, it seems I’m not uninspired at all.