Saturday, April 13, 2013

Let the Force [Not] Be With You

This entry is both a change of pace and a return to form. I recently committed to a month-long poetry spree, tasking myself with the daily creation of a poem. It is with a heavy heart and an enlightened mind that I must now break that promise. It is not for lack of energy, effort or ability; rather, I learned something profound during my venture into the realm of spoken word. Something vital. A sagacity that has truly altered my general perspective for the better. In my hand, I grasp the key to writing and its various incarnations: natural flow. More specifically, the lesson I learned is that you cannot force a creative reaction. Ideas must be born naturally, and out of a genuine desire and passion to do so.

The epiphany came through the course of my poetry spree, as I found that the further along I pushed into the endeavor, the more diminished the quality of my work became. When I'd first started, I was firing on all cylinders-- I had a rhythmic frame of mind. The first few poems I wrote exploded on paper, filling me with pride with each read back. The poems conveyed messages, brimming with true power and emotion-- their symbols effective. Alas, by the time the second week's batch arrived, the dough had soured. What happened? How could this be? Doesn't practice make perfect? Honing one's craft is indeed a boon, yet forcing oneself to churn out shoddy creations like some kind of a soulless factory is a bane. Nobody wants to see acting that feels forced, nor does anyone want to read forced writing.

Force and art good bedfellows do not make, and I'd go so far as to say it force can ruin every action one can take in life. Brute force is one of the most garish and unappealing means to an end I can fathom. It's Plan Z, the last of all resorts. An arranged wedding never fairs well, and forced love fairs equally foully. Life doesn't exist within the screen of a calculator. You can't tap a few buttons and expect a clean, clear result.  A conclusion must be arrived to naturally and in the most practical and beneficial way possible, regardless of the time and effort one must spend to get there. When coaxing a skittish cat to eat food out of your hand, you don't chase it down rapidly and violently shove food down its throat as it desperately claws for freedom. No, you hunker down submissively, whisper gently, let it come to you and eat the food cutely off palm.

Trying to write through writer's block--something I see as just not being in the mood--is equally futile. If you force a girl to have sex with you when she doesn't want it, that's a legitimate rape. Why would you rape your mind? Don't force yourself to do anything you don't want to do. Let your creative juices flow when they ready to do so. If you try drinking your creative spring before the spring of inspiration bubbles forth from your brain, all you'll be doing is churning out futility. You'll suck, like that annoying sucking noise made by children when they refuse to come to terms with the end of their milkshake.

So don't force anything. It's good to give yourself the kick in the pants you need to get up and go every once in a while, but let art make itself. Be a participant and a team player in your creative process-- not a desperate agitator and bully. Instead of blowing a whistle and demanding results, command a smile and create and guide a success like a thoughtful and caring therapist-- willing to offer as many sessions as needed until what needs to be done gets done.

Remember, you cannot force love... and love is the most important ingredient in anything worth doing. Especially writing.

- B