My mother is a painter, but I didn't inherit her gift. My grandfather was a carpenter, but I didn't get that gift, either. What I do is meander, float and dig around inside myself in search of the exact phrase, the perfect rhythm with which I can articulate ideas and emotions. I use words to express myself.
For the past month, I haven't been able to do much meandering or digging. I've been too stunned and exhausted by the death of our youngest son. Most of my expression has come in the form of tears and weakly returned hugs and an inability to sleep. I've flipped around all over the place -- by turns a zombie or a simmering volcano or a puddle of mush. Several times I sat at the computer, willing myself to write something, anything, but for the most part, it was beyond me to do so.
Then this morning I read an article in the January 2010 issue of Writer's Digest magazine. Titled Inspiration vs. Perspiration, the article discusses the balance required if one intends to write for a living. Author Mary E. DeMuth's words made a great deal of sense to me and, more importantly, urged me to sit the heck down and write something, anything, even if it was schlock. Ms. DeMuth writes, "Understanding the dynamics of each [inspiration and perspiration] and how they relate to our finished written work can help us capitalize on our most inspired times and push through our most difficult moments."
Well, mourning has certainly brought many difficult moments. But I realized as I read that if I am to honour my love of words and my livelihood, I do have to push through. I can focus for short times, so it's important to do that when I can. I can help myself, and maybe somebody else, by getting things "down on paper," as I so often tell my students and clients. And I trust that by doing so, I'll have more inspired moments...and be better able to push through future difficulties. Thank you, Mary DeMuth.
(Check out my Word Wonder post about willingness. I'm pretty sure that writing it helped me grab onto what Ms. DeMuth had to say in her article.)