Have you ever noticed that inspiration often comes from the most unlikely places? I’ve been bouncing around for the past six months or so, jotting down story notes, once in a while I’d drop into a pretty good writing groove, and then…oh, what’s that? A butterfly! I’d veer off on some tangent, or worse, convince myself that whatever I’d been writing didn’t measure up. Measure up to what, you ask? Exactly. I have no idea. I only know that I felt an invisible drag on my creativity, like nothing would stick. My friends assured me that all writers go through slumps and the only way out is to write your way out.
So, that’s what I did. I wrote. Only what came out wasn’t what I planned, and that set me off on another round of uncertainty. What the heck was I doing? I thought I must have been losing my edge. A couple weeks ago, Jove wrote about our ever-changing perceptions of success and I thought about that a lot. After three novels had I already peaked or had I gone off the rails? Did I totally forget how to write a good story? Or was something else going on?
Fear. If I’m honest, that’s what’s been holding me back. I had that revelation a few weeks ago. I realized my obstacle wasn’t the writing, but what I was writing. The topics of policing, race and community are fraught with controversy and pitfalls. I tried to stop but I couldn’t. I struggled with what to do because I was afraid to take that leap of faith. Then, my nephew posted a short video on my FB wall: An interview with Mike Myers. I thought, why the heck is he posting the Dumb and Dumber guy on my wall? I figured, whatever, at least I’ll get a chuckle, so I watched. Lo and behold, the answer to my creative angst was revealed. Out of the blue, Mike Myers spoke to my intrinsic struggle. He reminded me that the joy of creativity is in the creating. The process of writing IS the reason to write. Eureka! As I listed to him, I recalled the sheer joy of writing my first novel with no expectations. Just little me pouring my heart on the page. I had no idea if anyone would ever read it and that didn’t matter. I was fearless and free to dare. What mattered was the passion and it felt so good to remember that.
Take a look at Mike’s video for your own shot of inspiration. Do it for the love of it. The creative process is the joy, and that, folks, is more than enough.