Here’s the thing about inspiration: it never strikes when you think you need it.
Idea files are wonderful contraptions. They are an inspired idea in and of themselves. As a writer, a ubiquitous little notebook or stack of index cards and a pen stuck in your hair or behind your ear are the weapons equipping you for the War of Words. A well-snared word or phrase will fuel the cannons for later posts, poems, or works of fiction.
The thing is, by the time you actually get around to writing something of substance, sleepiness, stress, or other forms of physiological noise dampen your inspiration like water on gunpowder. Tiredness can squelch a good idea as well as rain squelches a fireworks display.
No matter how many brilliant ideas accumulate, it’s entirely possible to not have enough steam within you to communicate even the most fascinating of thoughts.
I’m in a class on aesthetics right now. The professor is a brilliant man who has a million interesting things to say. I squiggle his quotes down in my notebook between gulps of coffee. This week we’re studying Plato’s philosophy of beauty. Simply put, Plato considered all imitative art (which is, really, all art) to be too far removed from an object’s true essence to be of any intrinsic or moral value. A painting of a chair, he said, was a poor reflection of the chair’s chairness. Plato probably had no paintings hanging in his house, and he certainly didn’t have any volumes of poetry. Plato and I would not have agreed on much, especially when it came to house décor, so I’m glad that I will never be his housekeeper.
This class gives me tons of ideas. I think the only way to study for this class will be to write my way through all the differing philosophies of art—which means you all might get to hear many ill-informed and risible commentaries on ancient philosophers.
The trouble is, I’ll probably be too tired and too scatter-brained and too grumpy at the end of the day to make much sense.
Of course, after reading Plato for a few days, I’m beginning to think he might have had the same problem.