Showing posts with label no poem. Show all posts
Showing posts with label no poem. Show all posts


We are not mused, or where have all the words gone?

If you engage in some sort of creative enterprise then, unless you are extraordinarily lucky, you will pass through times when it just isn't happening.

Different people and different artistic endeavours will describe this in different ways.  When I was researching Number 11, 1952 I read that Jackson Pollock worked on that painting for months without satisfaction, repeating several times: it's not coming through, when asked about it.

In writing we tend to call this being "blocked."  However, I believe there is no such a thing... which I don't mean that there aren't times when we don't/can't write, obviously there are plenty of those.  However I think "blockage" is a very poor image for what happens. I feel it is far more that sometimes we are "ready" and sometimes not.  I suspect the degree to which the process is conscious or subconscious differs between individuals.  I know that for me at times of peak poetry, I'll be both:
  1. writing, reading, editing, re-writing (in the evening) but also,
  2. repeatedly (during the day) mulling again and again over a few words, or a feeling, or a perception; but for such short periods that this is only semi-conscious.

So in particular you can never be ready if you are busy doing other things, distracted or suffering some slew of overwhelming emotions.  (For me neither 1. nor, critically, 2. can occur in these cases.)  Sure great artworks can stem from powerful emotion, but are possibly very rarely delivered during them.

As another angle consider two poets.  "A" writes Monday and Thursday evenings, week after week, and always feels she's achieved something when she goes to bed on those days.  "B" writes every single evening for 104.3 days but then he achieves nothing else for the rest of the year.  Who is "blocked"?  It obviously feels like B had a more traumatic experience, but they've both done the same amount of writing...

A's creative engine could be seen as sputtering and stalling, but will only feel like that if A let's it.  How would she feel if it were only an average of two random days each week?

B in contrast has had an absurdly long (by my standards) period of continuous productivity—so maybe he's burned a whole year's worth of good ideas in those 104 days so shouldn't be surprised in needing a long rest?

Sometimes people "push" at their "blockage" and I think that is the worst thing you can do.  By doing that you are tending to lock the blockage in.  By straining with efforts that don't come naturally, you divert energy from whatever process it is you would benefit from if the engine were turning...

...however conversely I do think you can sometimes "play" your way out of it.  By turning your usual limits off—disabling your usual sensor, editor, grammarian, spell-checker, sense of taste, sense of reason, dignity—you can generate a rich mess of input material for your concious/subconscious processes to feed upon.  However, again, don't push it...  if you "play" to the exclusion of everything else, you again will not be allowing space for the creativity mechanism itself.

So don't expect creativity until you are completely past whatever distractions life threw in your way;  and don't expect to turn the tap at will either.  I might even say you won't get anywhere until you can get a little bit bored.  That's when you'll have the time, freedom, energy to let the art engine turn... another equivalent phrasing might be to say that is when you have enough "distance".

On the personal note neither poetry nor lyrics are happening for me at the moment and I'm trying not to worry about it (hence this post).  There's good reasons why I'm not producing—I'm a bit stressed, and I'm also busy with a couple of other things—so intellectually I'm not worried by this dry spell.  Although emotionally it does make me wobble a little however much I know the explanation.

Coincidentally, Hallam is also not creating music at the moment.  Again there's good reasons for this, his life has been changing a little (for the better), he's busy with work, and he's also taking an educational course.  So again the silence makes perfect intellectual sense, but leaves our emotions slightly uncertain.  However we are both keen to get back to our artistic efforts.  I just hope you'll understand that there's no point in either of us trying to predict when that will be.

Anyway, if this is useful to anybody then I am glad, and if it seems like utter bollocks please disregard as these things are a different for each one of us.