For a writer, which most people are, the struggle is often not finding the right words to say, but choosing what to say itself. Once the idea takes seed, the words flow easily. Recently, my own source of inspiration has began to run dry and I have had little to say to the blank sheets. My pen, which used to move across the pages of my diary for hours on end, has commenced ceaseless tapping on the side of my desk, full of inert potential without a place to go. The ideas that used to fascinate me droop like an old bouquets of cliches. No matter how many books I assimilate, I find myself harder and harder to be impressed. I’m even beginning to be disillusioned by the idea of my education itself. What am I learning here that I can’t find in a book or on a website elsewhere? Instead of being inspired by what I’m learning, it’s draining me of my creative potential. I can’t pin it down to a single class, person, activity, or time of day, but all I want is to experience each moment with the full force that it can hit me with, and that’s not what I’m getting. Instead I have a dull hush around me while I can sense the wind transporting other people elsewhere.
The thing about art, however, is that one can create objects even when one has nothing to say. I can pull out my phone and snap photos of what I see. I can pull out my notebook and draw the cup in front of me. I can make a book structure, add some meaning to it, and call it an artist’s book, without a single act of creative writing. Right now, I may need a break from that, because I’m ingesting material without feeling its nourishment. Right now, I’m writing down facts: I’m not creating the way I was created to.
I used to write daily for my blog. Then weekly. And now I’m lucky if I can achieve half of that. Five ideas would hit me at once and now they go over my head. Perhaps I am unknowingly terrified of approaching the bigger questions. For example, have I fully confronted my mortality? Can one life have more value than another? By what measure? What kinds of clothes will we wear in heaven? And so my ignorance duly expresses itself through working inquiry.
One day, I believe, it will come back to me. I believe that ideas need to incubate. I’ve used up the last batch from the old version of me and today’s version simply isn’t ready yet. The best thing I can do is to keep learning in order to be prepared when hatching season begins. In physics, we have something called the specific latent heat of a material. Even though heat and energy is being pumped into that material at a certain point, its temperature stays flat. It looks like nothing is happening, but in reality, it’s just getting ready to boil. It’s overcoming the intermolecular forces within it so that suddenly, when it’s absorbed enough energy, it will either melt or vaporize into the next state above. That’s me as a writer right now. I’m waiting for the puzzle piece, the cornerstone that will turn the raw material of what I know into something I can mold. (I also love metaphors.) Not only am I waiting, I am anticipating, I am hoping, I am reaching for that time.
Meanwhile, I have improved my academic writing. I have developed my focus with intention to the audience, and critically commented on the work of peers. I am rationally understanding the structure and format of a proper argument in the style that I was once dismayed by in competitive debate. No other class I have taken this year has required me to produce a single essay. Summaries and responses, sure. Problem sets and self made exam study guides, yes. A handful of paragraphs in my rough, intermediate level French too. But scarcely have I been judged on the quality and not the content of the things I produce here at Wellesley, even though I realize how important writing is for any given career. Therefore I appreciate writing here on my blog and its value for not only emphasizing the need to write well, but also to create. I believe that the two are so closely linked, it’s like trying the squeeze the water from the earth.