Home > Uncategorized > Quarantine Diaries – Day 33 (inspiration…or not)

Quarantine Diaries – Day 33 (inspiration…or not)

Was talking with my friend Alan Stout earlier today about inspiration. When it hits. How it hits. And why sometimes it doesn’t hit at all.

A lot of us are kinda locked down now, with more time on our hands than ever before. Those of us who write might expect to be churning the stuff out these days. We’ve got time. Solitude. Days are running together. Weekends aren’t a distraction or excuse anymore. There is certainly no lack of things to write about out there. After all, the world has become a fucking Stephen King novel.

So why am I spending so much of my time staring at a blank screen….or a blank piece of paper?

Inspiration has no sense of time or place. It hits in the middle of the night…or during the busiest part of the day. It hits in the car when you can’t write anything down, or in dreams that you can’t recall. It can come in pieces, and you may have no idea how to fit them together. Anything can trigger it. An overheard conversation. A stray phrase. A Wal-Mark check-out line. The wagging of your dog’s tail. Or it can be somebody else’s inspiration. A play. A movie. A book. They can jolt you into becoming more aware, or less lazy. Perhaps more willing to take chances. The saddest story can inspire something joyful, while something light can be laundered into a river of doom. There’s no rules. It’s all about movement. No retreat. No surrender. Keep moving forward. Find the words. And when it starts, don’t stop until the well is stone-dry. DO NOT THINK that you can simply pick up where you left off at another time. You can’t. It’s like throwing a pair of socks in the dryer. You know deep down only one is coming out.

However, much like golf, writing is no fun at all when you’re sucking at it. So there’s that too. But still, as much as I suck at golf, I never regretted the day spent on the course. I may have spent 4+ hours in a near murderous rage of incompetence, but it’s still worth the hours in the sun with pals and the 19th hole beers and banter. And so, I’d rather vomit out 1000 words of gibberish than retire with a blank screen in my head. Bad writing just means the words are in the wrong order. You can always fix ’em later.

At least that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

I hear a great song and it makes me want to write a great song. I see a great play and it makes me want to write a great play. I see a wonderful film and it makes me think of digging up the old screenplay one more time.

But still, that stuff might get you to your desk, but it doesn’t always translate into ready-set-go.

The one time inspiration doesn’t hit is when you’re just sitting there waiting for it. It’s like squeezing a tube of toothpaste too hard and having it glop all over. It has no idea we’re in the midst of a global pandemic. It doesn’t realize that we’re all sitting at home, ready to channel whatever falls from the sky. It could give a fiddler’s fart. It has its timetable, and you have to be prepared to upend yours or it’s just gonna disappear into the ether. Or worse, somebody else is gonna grab it. Cue the shuddering.

Today what inspires me are the folks on the front line of this thing. The ones risking their lives to save others (we’re the “others” in case you need to be reminded). They are everywhere. Caring for the sick, delivering supplies, checking you out at the store. They were doing this before this thing hit, and they’ll be doing it when it passes. If you took them for granted before, stand in line for absolution. You’ll have a chance to redeem yourself. By never taking them for granted again.

So keep at it boys and girls. Find a way. Be virtual. Be vigilant. Notebook by the bed. Phone nearby to capture that melody you found in the shower. Guitar in your lap during that netflix binge….ready to be noodled. Don’t give in. Don’t give up.

Stay home. Stay well.

When it’s over, we’ll all have stories to tell.

In a bit..



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