On Creativity and Apologies

There are lots of ways to put it. I’ve been in a funk. I’ve lost my mojo. I’m uninspired. I’ve lost my muse. I like to say that while most people get beautiful young women as muses, somehow mine’s an alcoholic, leathery-skinned, 50-something chain-smoking woman in a leather miniskirt who only helps me out when she’s both sober and awake, which is not often. Most often, she spends her time passed out on a sticky table in a dive bar somewhere deep in the part of my imagination where I put my supervillains and unrealistic plots of disproportionate revenge against old slights.

Over the years, I’ve learned that you can’t rely on alcoholics, no matter how long you sit there on your couch browsing tumblr waiting for them to show up. The same goes for inspiration. The truth is, I feel uninspired, lazy and demotivated. Creating something is hard, and there are inevitably parts in it that you won’t like if the act of making is more than a hobby to you. Making something beautiful out of thin air (or basic raw materials) is not supposed to be easy most of the time. When you start to understand exactly why Van Gogh felt like chopping off his ear, that’s when you know you’re doing it right.

Not that I have any right to say that. I don’t know if I’m doing it right. In a lot of ways, in fact, I know I’m not. When it comes to music, or to writing, my two loves in life, I know that a monkey bashing the keyboard with a stick could probably mix a song better than I can, and that I feel as if I should care what an Oxford comma is and that it might make me a better wordsmith, but… well. There’s so many people who do it so much better than I do, and lately the fact that I can write a song about something that means a lot to me, but that a grand total of seven people might ever hear it is getting to me. If a song is written in a forest and there’s no one there to hear it, does it exist at all?

All I know for sure is that creativity doesn’t appear out of nowhere, you just have to get stuck in and finish it, whether your muse is gently strumming a great chord progression by your side or whether she’s sloshing scotch all over you and slurring a wildly off-key cover of Xtina’s Genie in a Bottle (am I the only one that remembers that one? yes? okay.).

The other thing I know is that, regardless of whatever I’m doing wrong or may have done wrong or my own sense of modesty and decency, announcing it to people is only devaluing whatever good I’ve done. If it sucks, it sucks, and excuses and confessions don’t change that. There’s something utterly honest and professional about just laying out what you have and letting it speak for itself. I’m still not good at doing this every time. I feel the need to compensate or to shield myself somehow but I feel better for holding back when the comments roll in, good or bad.

This may not be much advice at all. I have no quick tips, no bright advice, just the cold comfort of the fact that making something, letting it be, and then making something slightly better is all that I know how to do. I suck at a lot of things, but, this is what I want to someday suck at the best, even if only seven people ever hear my songs or read my blog.


2 thoughts on “On Creativity and Apologies

    • You’re officially my new muse. Let’s go grab some cheap whiskey and write something.

      It’s comforting to know that I’m not the only one who has pretty much those exact words run through my head when I hand over my work.

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