Friday, November 25, 2005


It's not often that I am creatively inspired by external forces; for me, the inspiration to write has always come from within, as cliched as that sounds. So when I am particularly taken by someone else's art and can actually apply the meaning I extract from someone else's work to my own writing, it's somewhat profound. I saw the film RENT last night and it was fantabulous. The actors were brilliant, the music divine, but the message is what got to me the most. I saw the Broadway version years ago, probably while I was still in either grad school or college and therefore sort of without direction. But this time, what struck me most about the story told in RENT is that every single artist—wealthy or poor, painter or poet, novelist or actor—struggles to produce what their heart tells them to. Of course some artists do physically struggle with hunger or bills or disease, as those in the movie do. But it seems that the other artists, the ones to-the-manor-born, or the best-selling ones, or even the Pulitzer-prize winning ones, struggle internally on an almost daily basis.
In Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking, this is somewhat of a recurring theme: how she gets depressed while thinking about her work, how she thinks she'll never produce anything as lofty as the work of her late husband, how she wakes up to write and thinks, "This is the last thing the world needs." I suppose that it's quite comforting for me to know that all artists, even the most brilliant ones, do not find the creative process to be facile. However, I do find the actual act of creating something quite easy. Words pour out of me onto the page and they are cohesive; I've been able to write in a stream-of-consciousness style for as long as I can remember. The struggle, for this particular artist, comes after the work is finished. Where does it go? What do I do with it? How do I put it out there without losing a piece of myself in the process? Perhaps I'll learn some of these answers when I finish the manuscript I'm working on now, because I don't like the answers I got the last time around . . .