When I’m feeling singularly uninspired, I meander about and look at what other writers think and feel about writing.
Jane Yolen is an author I’ve been reading since I was about eleven. On her For Writers page, she says that [t]he Muse is an ornery creature and rarely comes when called. She wears feathers in her hair and birkenstocks on her feet and is often out in the woods when you are home at your keyboard. Which is all too true.
She quotes Gene Fowler: Writing is easy: all you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until the drops of blood form on your forehead. Of course, she goes on to point out that writing isn’t agony, and the majority of the time I’d agree with her; I’m not one of those people who thinks that an artist has to suffer in order to create, or to be able to create, good art. Every once in a while, though, yes, it really does feel that hard. Yolen also quotes Roland Barthes: The author performs a function; the writer an activity. It suggests that an author has a job, but a writer is the job. (I don’t remember ever reading anything so inspiring when I read Barthes a few years ago, but I might have missed something.)
However, the nicest thing on the page was this:
A writer has many successes:
Each new word captured.
Each completed sentence.
Each rounded paragraph leading into the next.
Each idea that sustains and then develops.
Each character who, like a wayward adolescent, leaves home and finds a life.
Each new metaphor that, like the exact error it is, some how works.
Each new book that ends–and so begins.
Selling the piece is only an exclamation point, a spot of punctuation.
Which is remarkably inspiring.