Inspiration is such a lovely word but inspiration itself is overrated. You don’t have to be inspired, you just have to do.
Right now I’m not feeling inspired at all and I don’t know if I should be writing about inspiration. This is an experiment. Will I get inspired through the writing? Is it as I say?
How romantic to be yanking paper from the jaws of a typewriter, scrunching it into a ball and lobbing it at the waste paper bin. How satisfying to get the shot in.
Working with a computer means I can and should write down whatever comes into my head without analysing. Editing comes later. Ideas need to be caught as they come in on a gust of wind.
Inspire = to instil something in the heart or mind of someone or to influence, move, or guide by the divine or supernatural.
Elizabeth Gilbert explains how the ancient Greeks and Romans viewed creativity as not coming from humans but “was a divine attendant spirit that came to human beings from a divine and unknowable source.” The reason they came at certain times was also unknowable and they called these spirits Damens (Greeks) or Genius (Romans). So genius came to an artist as they were doing their work to help and shape the outcome. This belief protected the artist from the result of their work, from both criticism and narcissism.
Today in class as I wrote the word respiration’ on the board, I wondered what it could have in common with the word inspiration. I reminded myself to look it up. It wasn’t the first time I’d wanted to know.
It comes from the Latin Inspirare, meaning to breathe into.
Things that are breath-taking are inspiring. Things that are breath-taking slow our thoughts and clear our mind. We can use our breath to slow our mind. New and more interesting thoughts pierce the surface of our consciousness.
Inspiration is a feeling if wanting to, of being in the mood, motivated, rather than an idea.
It begins with an intention. I have to plan to do something first. My head is not filled with stories, only voices. I have to get quiet to hear them.
These voices live in the depths of my mind, trapped like miners, they burst suddenly into the light.
They belong somewhere, I just know it. I just have to find the right place for each one. I try to hang onto them. I start by writing them all down. Each one deserves a place on the white piece of paper. Each one gains some permanency in black ink.
I often don’t know what I think until I write it down. That’s where this urge comes from.
I wanted to live as deeply as Anais Ninn. People living deeply have no fear of death, she said. I wanted to feel as deeply. I wanted to write. But I didn’t know where to start.
One weekend alone in Bombay, my friend Satheesh had given me the job of recording old Hindhi vinyls onto a computer to stop me from getting bored. I was bored. Words came to me, images were born. I wrote.
Stephen King, as a young writer, felt most inspired working in the laundry room of a hospital. Such conditions were fertile grounds for tales of horror. Working as a teacher, he hardly wrote a word.
Inspiration loves monotony.
There’s a time and place for inspiration. This time is when it’s most inconvenient. Walks at the beach, sitting in the sauna, about to fall asleep – basically any time when you have no pen or paper or phone at hand.
The art gallery is a fine place for inspiration – not in the ‘What? I could paint that!’ way. Colour and form breathe into us. The mind slows to the rhythm of the gallery and the art infuses beyond bones and blood vessels, it seeps into the cells.
You will never understand the description on the wall. You don’t have to understand. You will be inspired, even if you don’t know it yet. Just like what you like and allow yourself to be pulled, even if it is to the fire extinguisher. Take photos and feel good.
I’m 100% sure.
Did you make it up though?
Yes, I did. But I’m 100% sure.