NaPlWriMo 2011 Rhino Burst #3: The Readiness is All
This mid-challenge Burst comes to you from one of my deep sources of inspiration, Ming-Zhu Hii. Way back in the early days of theater blogging, we found each other and connected through our blogs. We've even collaborated long distance. Ming continually inspires my work and my creative practice and I hope her wisdom and enthusiasm will add a spark to yours.
I almost never get inspiration out of the blue. As I type this, I’m trying to remember a time when I was struck at absolute random, and somewhat disappointingly I’m coming up empty. Almost all the inspiration I’ve received to work - to write, make theatre, initiate a project - has come from a combination of two things:
1. A trigger, or provocation - usually in the form of someone else’s work, but it could be anything from a random conversation topic overheard in a cafe, to a social issue that I’ve become irrationally obsessed about.
2. Me being ready.
Number two of course, is where the juice is.
Triggers are everywhere. The potential to be inspired is inherent in every moment of every day - in each experience that the closing-on-seven-billion of us have without a second thought.
But no artist - either seasoned or newbie - has the instrument to recognise, indeed to translate these experiences into the muse-touched creative thrall that we call inspiration without first being ready.
And so it’s crunch-time. Readiness comes from practice. You knew that even before you read it here. In fact, you’re in the middle of NaPlWriMo. You know all about practice. It’s when you haul your ass out of bed every morning, sit down at the keyboard or page and write until either your hands or brain bleeds. Or both. But hopefully neither.
Practice doesn’t always take this shape of course. The deeper you go into your work, the longer you stick at this thing of being an artist, the more broadly practice will define itself to you. Of course you will still write. And you’ll probably still write every day. But you’ll notice yourself practicing in other ways, too.
In fact, you’ll notice yourself noticing. Observing. Both yourself and the world. You’ll notice yourself becoming more mindful. Aware. Awake.
Texture will grow in significance to you - the texture of food on your tongue, keys beneath your fingertips, the texture of a moment between two people. The texture of a poem landing on new ears.
You’ll also begin to cultivate a fine intuition for rhythm. An innate understanding of the percussive timing of nature. You’ll predict small things with surprising accuracy.
And then there will be your dreams. Both waking and sleeping. Your subconscious meanderings will take on a stranger, but often wiser tone. You’ll be gifted with queer twists of narrative and elegant insight that seems to have come from somewhere far beyond your mortal imagination.
Which will lead you back to your work. Your writing. And of course - your inspiration.
When you begin any kind of creative project, the will to keep pressing onwards is tenuous to say the best, when the beast you’re trying to shape from seeming nothingness is as nebulous as shapes in the morning mist and as willfully errant as a tween high on sherbet and red cordial.
But persist you must. Because this is how work is made. You must show up - each day - and write. When your muse is on vacation in Tahiti and sunning herself oblivious to your efforts, when each word you clunkily pound out feels like a superfluous blight on the screen-of-your-computer-slash-face-of-the-planet, stick in there and sweat it out.
Show up. Write. Practice. Do it daily. Get through the gauche clunking. Show up. Write. Practice. Suffer the ennui with a smile on your lips. Show up. Write. Practice. Cultivate readiness. When you cultivate readiness every day, inspiration will be everywhere.
Ming-Zhu Hii is an interdisciplinary artist, writer and serial entrepreneur. She is the director of 3 microenterprises, the co-artistic director of an independent art production company, and a vegan foodie. She writes about the creative process at the Public Studio.
Naplwrimo runs on love, sweat and your generous help.
Thank you to our donors!
Machelle Allman, Holly Arsenault, Will Bond, Karen Chandler, Michael Lee, Leslie Liautaud, Jeff Mackey, Maggie McAleese, Marian McNamee, Marla Porter, and all our anonymous donors.