On Inspiration

All the time–really, all the time–I am thinking about writing, and all the time lines come into my head, fully formed, that kick me and say, write me down. And I am dutiful–if I am at work, I hurry to open a blank Word document and type out what I have in my head. As I wait for the document to open, I am usually silently repeating the line over and over, not to reform it but to get the feel of it in my mouth, somehow, despite the noiselessness of my actions.

to do list
My son is also in the habit of recording his inspirations (in this case, he recorded his plans for summer break).

Yesterday I did this–I had a line ‘descend’ upon me and it rolled through my head like a wave while my body fulfilled the actions necessary to open the word processing document, to transcribe the line. And then, because I was at work, I minimized the window and went back to what I had been doing.

I forgot about it until, compelled by an odd need to clean up my desktop a bit and get rid of possibly superfluous open windows, I reopened the document and reread the line. And at that point I was forced to make a decision: was this line really as good as I thought it was, or was I willing to loose my hold upon it and send it drifting back into the fabric of the universe?

It’s at this point that we really see what a line or a thought is made of–what it’s worth to us. Because for me, it’s not that I am at this point doubting that the line is good or interesting, it’s that I’m doubting myself–I am doubting my ability to engage with this line and make it into the piece I was first feeling as it rolled around in my head in the weird limbo-moment that happens when I’m rushing to find a way to record a thought.

I admit, I let this one go.

Jackie, you may be asking, why did you not invest a moment in the SAVE function that comes with every word processing program? 

Yeahhhh. I know. I knnnooowww.

But again it goes back to my sense of what a line is “worth” to me. If it’s something I can see throwing myself into, to flesh it out. Because if there’s something there, you bet I’ll save it. But I don’t always–I didn’t this time.

In then end I think a willingness to release some ideas like fishermen do undersized fish speaks to an optimism about writing inspiration, about the faithfulness of the Muse. I know she’ll come to me again–she’s never left me alone for too long.

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