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3/15/2006

CREATIVE CONSTIPATION

I'm constipated right now. Creatively speaking. I don't get "writer's block". You can build with a block, stack a block, stand on the stack and reach the hit song on the top shelf. I'm not a complete idiot: I know "block" in this particular metaphor is more about being clogged, stopped up, unable to flow. But it's still open to a positive interpretation - it still has a bright side (that word "block" and it's other meaning) - but having it, having writer's block, isn't at all positive.

So I prefer constipation as the metaphor. That's how "writer's block" really feels. It feels like there's something that truly needs to come out - it would be very healthy, I think to myself, for this to come out of me, I need it to come out or I might be sick and even possibly die - but it won't. It sits there stubbornly lodged in the large intestine of my mind, or fingers or wherever it is good ideas hide out while they're being processed.

This constipation leads to irritation which would lead to eradication (of myself) if I thought that I, a song writer/article writer/sermon writer by trade, would never, you know, "go" ever again. But I always get unclogged somehow...eventually. Something always comes along and acts as the metaphoric bran muffin to get me making musical number twos good enough to be number one on some chart somewhere. Suddenly I run to the piano or to a napkin with pen in hand and a mind swarming with a buzzing cloud of bee-like bits of melody and rhyme. And I take dictation feverishly. Eventually the brainstorm ends, usually in a matter of minutes, and I'm left in awe of this thing that just shot out of me, out of nothingness, out of the total wasteland that was my head. Amazing.

Do it again, I plea with the unseen thing that must have triggered this burst of productivity. Do it again! But it rarely obeys.

Rarely have I been able to coax inspiration into playing nice with my deadlines and desires. Inspiration is stubborn like that..and sneaky. You see he hides out somewhere until the wrong moment. He waits until I'm in a shower with no instrument or pen. He lurks until three in the morning. He plays dead until family comes to visit, the car needs to be taken to the shop, the kids are all sick and it's my turn to cook dinner. THEN he leaps into the room and screams, "Play with me!"

I was stripping wallpaper in a bathroom when "Welcome Home" pounced on me. I was studying for final exams when "Abba Father" jolted me awake. I was selling hot dogs in a concession stand at Sam's Wholesale when "Two Cents" hopped up on the counter and started singing almost faster than I could scribble on a box of buns.

Constipation to diarrhea and back again. I just want to be regular.

But I never will be - at least not by my own doing. And that might be inspiration's point - God's point. Psychoanalyst Adam Phillips has been researching inspiration and writes that "It is the kind of magic that people like to believe in, perhaps especially now, in a culture where money can buy virtually everything else of value, and science and technology can create or invent the things we most need. Inspiration, in other words, is a kind of God-term; it refers to something we think of as essential but that we can't, or may not want to, understand. As [T.S.] Eliot suggests, it is like a visitation from something profound and incomprehensible. It reassures us, or at least reminds us, that some of the best things about us are beyond our control."

I get it. I'm not running the show. You're in charge. I'm just your secretary - a constipated secretary.

OK? Lesson's learned. Can I have a melody now?

(HT:RE)

7 Comments:

Anonymous Jess said...

It's really annoying when inspiration hits and you have no way whatsoever to record your idea. You try not to panic, telling yourself that you will remember it till you have a chance to write it down, it won't slip away. Then it does and you don't know when, or if, it will come back again.

3/15/2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the other night i had a complete chorus and two verses near 4 in the morning, two and and a half hours after I had gone to bed, and two and a half hours before the kids woke up.... it's gone now.

brody

3/15/2006  
Blogger bdg.theTRu said...

insiration always hits me in the shower... how the heck am i supposed to write it down then?

but at least i know that i am thinking "clean" thoughts...

peace... love... bdg...

3/15/2006  
Blogger Kathryn said...

your metaphors here are so hilariously gross!!!!

creativity. . .inspiration -- you described it well. . its never around when you want it and it blows in at the oddest times. I've found that my best writing comes from times of the most extreme distress.

3/15/2006  
Blogger NerdMom said...

Sometimes I am not sure if I am having idea inspiration or brain vomit. In the moment it is hard for me to tell so sometimes I don't write it down and then I regret it. So what is your "bran"?

3/16/2006  
Blogger Seth Ward said...

inpiration is like a cat. it loves you when you dont love it. and runs when you need it. scratches you if you try and keep it, and craps and pees on your pillow when you go away for vacation. well, maybe not that last part.

Seth

3/17/2006  
Anonymous Chris said...

I like to think of songs as starting out as caterpillars that have to make their way up the tree, cocoon and then wait. The waiting of course is followed by the pain of squeezing through the small opening, but the reward is wings. Of course, some are worms and even more caterpillars are a bit brain damaged and thus never make it to the waiting...but when one does...flight.

Wasn't it that erstwhile liturgist, Tom Petty, who wrote, "the waiting is the hardest part?"

If that metaphor doesn't work for you then how about waiting as artistic exlax?

Word.

ps: thanks for an engaging blog.

3/17/2006  

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