Inspiration is a mercurial thing. One moment its winds come whipping upon you, pushing you forward to new waters. The next, gone, dead in the sea, wondering which way to go and why you got on the boat in the first place.
So it goes with writing.
I’ve been working on my next book of poetry, a compilation of some past pieces I’ve yet to publish and some recent pieces I’ve yet to fully realize. I had a lot of steam behind the project back in December, it seemed a good way to bring some starlight to the darkest of winter’s months.
But as the new year hit, I found myself losing interest, losing momentum, and questioning the whole of the book.
Does this hold value? Do I believe in the work? Do I feel inspired- because if I don’t feel inspired then how can I expect anybody else who reads it to feel inspired…
It is easy to get lost in the waters of self-doubt when we’ve stared at the screen too long. Even easier when we wobble back and forth between that precarious balance of pushing ourselves to be better, write better, improve upon what we’ve produced before… yet at the same time remain true to our voice. To not “improve” upon something to the point of losing our self and losing our original vision.
My original vision was a compilation of poetry for the mind and soul on all sorts of topics, mostly related to the natural world. Things to make whoever reads the words think or reflect or smile or stir. An offering of light in a time that has felt dark. A bit of beauty poured back into the world.
Then I got caught up on, “who wants to read another book of nature poetry?” and found myself shutting the project down, floating adrift in that still pond so busy brooding over the sediment clouding my waters that I forgot to look up and appreciate the grace of stillness and the receptivity that comes when we sit in silence.
It is also easy to minimize the power of our intentions and actions. As if our work only holds value if recognized by many. As if the intentions and energies and thoughts we send out into the universe have no implications if they’re not validated by another. As if we’re not all connected and our efforts don’t belong.
As if there is no value in just doing the work itself. Then sending it forth in the hopes that it goes where it needs so we have a sense- it was worth it.
Recognizing that anytime we find the courage to create and then engage in the act of creation- it already is.
I find my inspiration again while riding a chair lift up a mountain. The dullness of the past weeks begins to fade from my mind while I ascend. It is a foggy Friday where snow mixes with rain, and the presence of the mountain reminds me just how important nature is and how disconnected we can feel from it.
Music begins to play in my head. Songs of poetry I wrote for the book, songs I haven’t thought about in weeks.
This world is so much bigger than it seems. With water pressing against land pressing against sea pressing against sun pressing against tree; welcoming all into its grasp, welcoming you and me.
I remember this song; I wrote it back in December and like a faithless daughter wandered away from the notes searching for a different tune. It sings in my head this day, along with many others making me feel something. Acknowledging why I wrote it in the first place.
I feel the winds cradling my face, stirring, reminding me that whether or not the world needs more nature poetry- I need more nature poetry- I need to write these notes. I need to write the words that sing.
The air breathes in gasps of sleet and sound. Echoes of the trees and the hills and the skies, I think I can hear my brother on the other side, he tells me things are never what they seem and to keep on writing. I try and take in the gray of the hail and the shale of the slope and the foggy city of anchorage sitting in the distance- in this moment all creation has value and belongs.
No matter how small the creation may be.
The wind whips. I lean into it as my boat moves forward. I go home and write a song about the ocean.