My drug of choice is writing––writing, art, reading, inspiration, books, creativity, process, craft, blogging, grammar, linguistics, and did I mention writing?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Jazz Hands

There's an old saying: "fake it till you make it."  I think this applies to writing as much as anything.

There is a caveat.  

If "make it" means fame and fortune and publication and all that jazz, it might be a long wait, doomed to disappointment.  But if "make it" is more like writing every day, emotional fulfillment, and bellwethers of art that have much different meaning, faking it is the key to making it as much as anything.

The setbacks of late have kind of made writing feel like jazz hands, but part of just doing any art for a good length of time is knowing that if you push through those times when inspiration is low and the lightning bolts of creativity aren't lancing across the sky of your mind.....if you just keep grinding away like you are the most creative being in the universe...eventually all that mojo comes back.  Eventually.

(That last sentence is awesome if you read it in the voice of a little girl with a slight English accent.  It's even awesomer if you GET why it's awesome.)

While I struggle against data loss, and trying to write out ahead of myself and the strangeness that is a schedule in the week before a convention, and a few other factors I'm not going to talk about in public space, I feel one of those runs where the writing is kind of a chore, but I keep trucking onward.

When I was a wee lad, every summer I went to see my grandparents.  Grandpa was getting on in years (and was--I would later find--in the last couple of years of his life) but loved to watch birds.  So on the other side of a huge picture window in the den that looked out over the side yard, were about ten different bird feeders, hummingbird feeders, bird baths, and bird houses.  My grandfather filled the feeders, changed the water, and cleaned out the houses if they emptied so that new tenants would move in immediately.  He chased off crows and made sure the feeders had anti-squirrel devices all over them.  All this effort to make a hospitable place meant that the side yard was constantly alive with birds.  He put in the groundwork, made the effort, created a wonderland, and the birds showed up.

This is a pretty good metaphor for artistic muses and creativity.  Do the work.  Lay the groundwork.  Keep doing what you're doing even if it seems like nothing is there at first.  If you create an environment hospitable to creativity, it will show up.  (And probably around the same time every day.)  If you horde your seed, and wait for creativity to give up the goods before you deign to toss some its way you might wait for a long, long time between visits.  If you show up, build houses and feeders, and a utopia for creativity to play in, creativity may not always be there all the time, but it will know, "that is an awesome place to grab lunch.  Let's go there!"

So jazz hands when it hurts and isn't working well.  Fake it till you make it.

And you will.