Alex the Scribe

Exploring the craft of writing. Sharing resources for writers.

Month: September, 2013

Inspiration is Unnatural

“They were able to compose only by bringing themselves to attacks of inspiration, an extinct form of epilepsy.” Yevgeny Zamyatin in We.

“[Goethe] leaned down, opened the drawer, and found a pile of rotten apples. The smell was so overpowering that he became light-headed. […] Schiller had deliberately let the apples spoil. The aroma, somehow, inspired him, and according to his spouse, he ‘could not live or work without it.'” Goethe, cited in Odd Type Writers

Inspiration isn’t just a fickle mistress, it’s also an unnatural mental state. It’s an intoxication that disrupts the normal functions of the brain. It’s accompanied by a release of endorphins and dopamine, producing a sense of euphoria and invincibility in the artist and making the whole experience addictive.

Once the effects wear out, the victim is left deflated with a sense of guilty elation. Then, withdrawal kicks in with a bout of “the blues”.

The victim will then actively seek out inspiration through various methods, both rational, like reproducing the setting in which inspiration struck, and irrational, like calling upon the forces of the occult, and everything in between, with various degrees of failure. Others will simply wait for inspiration to strike again, which can take from days to months, and longer.

A more reliable way to get your fix is to work for it. Start creating without inspiration, and it will eventually manifest itself spontaneously. Creation breeds inspiration. More so than the other way around.

Inspiration isn’t all that fickle when you get to know her.


Angel’s Death

I’ve seen things you cannot imagine:
the gates of Hell;

Heavenly armies fending off swarms
of fiendish beasts;

Seraphims and cherubims fighting
hellish archdemons;

Torn leathery wings, bloodied feathers
filling the skies;

The victorious trumpet blasts of
celestial beings.

All these moments will be lost in time,
like tears in rain.

Nothing’s left for me but to accept
it’s time to die.

[Inspired by this timeless monologue from Blade Runner]

Don’t text and kick balls

– Hey Beautiful!

– Hey Love!

– How was your day?
. . .

– Sorry, just got home. Still in my bags.

– You stayed in class that late?

– No. Intramural kickball game.

– They have that in Oslo, too?

– Well, let’s just say I coaxed my fellow international students to challenge the computer science nerds.

– So I’m a nerd?

– Not you, silly. You’re special.

– What’s that supposed to mean?

– That I love you, knucklehead. You’re no nerd.

– Right.

– You’re my geek.

– That’s so much better.

– I mean it in the nicest of ways. Why so serious?

– Nothing.

– Don’t give me that. Read what you wrote. You come off as touchy.

– There’s nothing. Crappy morning at work is all.

– Come on, spill it out.

– Did you win?

– What?

– The game. Did the internationals kick Norway’s butt?

– Oh. No, we got our butts served to us. Nerds can kick, apparently.

– How is that a surprise? I was the star kicker on our team.

– Sure. But like I said: you’re special. An exception. You still haven’t answered my question.

– So is it a league like we have at Concordia University?

– Not yet.

– I miss being team captain.

– Hey, you’ll be my captain again this coming September.

– That’s still two full months away. I miss you.

– Aw, I miss you too. Now stop dodging my question.

– Why didn’t you pick up last night?

– You called? Is that what it’s about?

– No. I just felt like spending my calling card minutes to listen to your roomie’s answering machine. In Dutch.

– Don’t be a smartass.

– Where were you?

– Out with friends.

– Why didn’t you text me?

– I didn’t think about it.

– What, I’m not important enough to you?

– You’re kidding, right?

– That’s like the third time you missed my call in two weeks.

– So?

– What?

– You know, I have a life, here. Look, I love you, but you’re not my everything.

– You love me, BUT? It’s that Greek guy, isn’t it?

– Oh come on. Don’t even go there.

– Can’t you delete that stupid picture from Facebook?

– What, I’m not allowed to have fun with friends?

– You’re cheek to cheek with him. All flushed and smiles.

– I TOLD you. We were at a club dancing among FRIENDS.

– Whatever.

– You know what? Screw this. When I’m back in Montreal, the only balls I’ll kick will be yours.

Winter haiku

Rainy winter night:
She mourns her lost husband like
Nature mourns the sun.