Monday, December 23, 2013

The Problem with Inspiration

If you know me well then you know I’m all about impulse and inspiration borne from outside catalysts. For example, I hear that it takes 10,000 hours of doing the same craft over and over again to reach mastery. All of a sudden I’m racing home to my computer and punching the keys like a boxer would a bag of dope, and I’m being productive as hell and everything is great and there's that fantastic feeling of unstoppability you only get once every couple years. The problem for me is that all this endures for a few hours only, a day max before the inspirational high depletes and I’m stuck again with the stark reality that the "down" begets, which is that I’m lazy and I don't want to do this anymore. So I pause the thing and either require a new fix to resume it, or I quit completely if the requisite inspiration can't imbue my famished veins.

For discussion's sake, let's say I’m able to acquire the former. That means maybe I stumble upon a moving YouTube video. For example, the "How Bad Do You Want Success" audio paired with various clips of professional athletes in training. Wow, that gets me going. I watch that after waking up in the morning and suddenly I’m this wrecking ball tasked to obliterate every blank page I see. But my eyes are bad and after an hour or so I lose sight of why I was inspired in the first place. Off to the YouTube search bar for my next fix.

But of course I’m busy after the morning passes so whatever it was that impulse propelled me to create gets the broom treatment, and two years fold over before one day I’m opening random files in my Dropbox as a way of procrastinating on my latest project, and that's when I chance upon seeing the from-yore, bastardized document that looks a little too much like Brenda's baby.

By then, I could give a shit less. I’m not gonna revisit this document. Why would I? The original inspiration's already made the obit page. My beliefs have altered so drastically since I first wrote the thing, I don't even believe in the subject matter's stance anymore. I’m juggling 15 other blog ideas and 20 satire pieces, a fiction short and two novels, along with life outside of writing, pondering meaning and purpose while getting upset by things like people using the wrong window wiper speed. With all that, I’m gonna pay mind to a shitty little 100-word document I created two years ago that I forgot about until just now? Fuhgeddaboudit.

And so the vicious cycle is born. I see or hear or discover a thing. I’m inspired. There's an impulse. I create something. I work at it.

Then the inspiration escapes.

The motivation to keep on goes limp.

I stop.

And then I see or hear or discover a new thing.

It's a sick disease, not being able to see a creation through to the finish line. I’m actually fearful right now, wondering if this post will be fated to the same dead end as all my other stillborn projects before it. Because this wasn't premeditated. This post, focusing on impulse and fleeting inspiration, is a product of that very same impulse and fleeting inspiration. At present I’m still inspired; I don't want to let any of the magic go, so I’m still up writing and keeping on, scared shitless that if I put it down for the night, come tomorrow, in some Kafkaesque way, this fucking pen will turn into an anvil harder to pick up than Candace Swanepoel at a billionaires' ball.

But goddamn, I'd like to do it. Get to bed at a reasonable hour, then pick up right where I left off. Right now it's Wednesday December 11, 2:30 a.m. The snow has abated, the ice is freezing over and Wayne, New Jersey is sleeping peacefully. I’m on my Ariel tip, wanting nothing more than to be a part of that world. Close my computer, lay in bed and read Tropic of Capricorn till I doze off for the next eight hours.


I ended up doing it. I put the pen down, read Tropic of Capricorn, and then slept… for 50 hours. Not all at once, of course. As I write this now it is Tuesday December 17, which means six days have passed since I touched this document, since inspiration dictated the page margins and I got honest with myself in forefronting a major character hump I can’t get over, that I’m self-debilitating in my ability to finish what I start.

And now it’s Monday, December 23.

Yet another six days have gone by since writing the last paragraph and at this point I’ve got negative gajillion inspiration to persevere with this post. It took all the mental fortitude I could muster just to open the document up and read what I’d so far written. A 100 new ideas are brewing, simmering inside my brain. Even if discipline precludes me from entering the proverbial kitchen so long as I’ve got food on my plate (this post), still I can’t help but get a whiff or 20 of the myriad smells gravitating my way.

That’s not to say they even smell good. They could smell horrible for all I know. These new ideas could all be suffering from that pungent odor you only get by crouching down toward the sidewalk and picking up dog shit. But still I’d be allured for the very simple reason that whatever this new idea, what’s important is that it’s not the one I’m working on now, the one time has gotten me to loathe and despise. Wine with time is still wine; but after just a few days these written words become something sinister: textual mirrors reflecting back a very perverse man who gets his kicks from surfeiting in the fatty, gluttonous swine of laziness and procrastination. 

Truth be told, a real man finishes what he starts.

I don’t finish what I start.

I am not a real man.


I don’t want to be inspired anymore. I’ve already been down that rabbit hole a million times. I know what’s down there.

No, I just want to be a hard worker. Someone that persists and perseveres and finishes what he starts, shitty little excuses be damned. Starting with this post. And then with every other future post, story, novel, email, Christmas and grocery list I write.

But first I have to clean up the mess I’ve amassed up until now. I have a folder in my Dropbox named “Current Projects” and another called “Limbo.” The former is self-explanatory; the latter is for projects I started but deemed too dumb, too corny, too unsalvageable to round off. What I’m vowing now is to go back and finish every single one of these projects, no matter how long it takes me. I will not start a new project during this time.

My goal is to build and fortify a threshold that will allow me persist in writing while enduring long bouts of being uninspired.

Ultimately this will foment a total personality change, one that begins with hard work and ends with an unyielding confidence to complete any task I start, by whim or by long-thought-out premeditation.

A real man finishes what he starts.

I’m 24 years old right now. It’s time I become a real man.

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