Thursday, July 19, 2012

Adventures in Hipping

I take classes at Dance 101 when I can (sadly, time and money rarely keep up with my inclination). Last Friday was a day that I could, so I went down to Briarcliff after work to see what was on tap.

Dance 101 is a drop-in studio; rather than signing up for weeks-long sessions of the same class like your mama did for you in your tutu days, each class stands alone. You can come any day, any time, and take anything offered, and then do it all differently (or not at all) next time. Most of the students, however, tend to commit to their favorite classes week after week. It's rather astounding, considering the turnover rate of the classes themselves. But because of my unpredictable child-rearing schedule--or perhaps just because I get bored easily when it comes to physical activity--I like to take advantage of the drop-in format and switch things up.
The problem is, I have a special knack for choosing the class with the least amount of people signed up for it. It's like that cursed mole-bopping game: the other class in my chosen time slot looks supercrowded and fun, so I aim for that one the following week, only to find four people are taking it and the class I took last week is jammed. Being in a small class isn't all that bad, except that there's less energy in small numbers. And you get put in the worst studio. And the teacher can see you if you slack off.

That is what happened to me last Friday. I chose to take the class that I did based entirely on the fact that its instructor had waved at me expectantly the week before when I was not taking her class, and I felt bad. Like so many do at D101, the class had some kind of crazy name based more on the type of music played than the style of movement. Essentially it was hip hop, with emphasis on the hip rather than the hop. The aforementioned instructor was the most adorbs chick ever, the kind you want as a friend, but who also has guys tripping over their dangling tongues: sugar-voiced, huge smile, messy curls, and super fit, but somehow looks like she'd happily eat a cheeseburger and tell fart jokes while watching football. Stark contrast to my brand of attractive, which we'll just call a specialized taste.

Dance Teacher

My body wasn't quite as enthused as my brain about dancing that day. Some weeks you accumulate exhaustion, building a wall brick by brick into which you smash face first on Friday at 5:00 PM. If I was hoping for a burst of energy from some heart thumping cardio dance moves, I was to be sadly disappointed. Cardio dance moves there were a-plenty. Energy bursts? No.

Do you agree with me, that it's tempting fate to announce at the beginning of a dance class that the combo is "definitely a solid level 1"? Just as starting a sentence with "don't take this wrong way..." pretty much guarantees that exact opposite result, whatever level a dance teacher thinks a piece is, it's the opposite. I know this because I teach dance. (To that end, I propose that every choreographer start off with the words, "this is the most challenging thing you will ever do."). So, to feelings of exhaustion and inferiority, add incompetency. Sooo muuuch grinding, you guys. Swaying. Bouncing. (Believe it or not, I actually do like hip hop. It's just that I'm a World Class Priss--I have trouble getting, as they say, low).
Sure, I got swag. Compared to 9-year-old white girls from Custer, South Dakota.

Another disadvantage to small classes: bodies fill time. Don't ask me to explain this mysterious but indisputable law of physics. The combo was short, and even though we all tried to stretch out the learning process, we still ended up running it five times back to back--twice. The intended result was an exponential and direct increase of joy and technical precision. The actual result was an inverse progression of sweat and patience.
We managed to endure, however, me and the three other slightly wilted class attendees. I didn't have the brain cells available to scrutinize the others--a happy change, actually--but I can say with certainty that on this day...none of us were feeling it.

Mirror, mirror, on the wall,
who's the shortest and thickest of all?

After that, I decided I might need to cut my losses on Friday dance classes. Tuesday offered a conveniently timed and plainly-named ballet class. I went, and lo and behold, there was joy and dancing. Verily I tell ye I flew across the marley like a feather, despite being the least ballerina-looking person there. AND it was level two.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Rolling Out the Red Carpet: My Premiere

I'm pretty sure--I didn't actually check--that I had this blog three years ago when I filmed a small part in a film shot here in Georgia. Now, this was a real Georgia movie, folks. Not one of your celebrity-spotting, Hollywood tax break on-location, SAG-legit shoots. Oh no. Everyone working on this film, from the crew to the actors to the agent that booked them, were down-home folk that like to pretend they are all of these things.

But I'm not ripping on this movie for the simple reason that it's one of the few film projects I've ever worked on that was actually completed--WITH receipt of my copy (the only compensation I'm generally offered). Not only was the movie finished, but there was a world premier at The Strand in Marietta complete with - yes indeed - a red carpet.

I did not however walk that carpet. Because, silly me, I got there when the invitation said to arrive. Patrick and I sat around for no less than an hour and 45 minutes being dubiously "entertained" by an amateur improv troupe, some scantily clad Indians, a hula-hoop act, and a family of for-realz hillbillys. After awkwardly admitting I've forgotten both my character's name and what the movie is about chatting with a curious man nearby, being not-recognized by my scene partner with whom I spent a 12-hour day of filming, and slowly nursing the single beer I could afford at the prices they were charging, I was really looking forward to the movie starting.

I know my stage peeps will feel me when talk about the special brand of excruciating that is watching oneself on film (I can only assume you get used to it if you do it more often, but maybe I'm wrong and everybody hates it). It's rather astounding how many thoughts can flicker through one's mind in just three short scenes. Among them:

Heh. I wore that dress to work the other day.

If I look that fat on camera a month after my wedding, how fat would I look now?

At least my boobs look awesome. Take that, skinny chicks in the swimsuit scene.

DEAR GOD do I really sound that Southern/ditzy when I talk?

At least you can hear me.

Maybe my hair actually did look OK short.

How is it possible to have both too many freckles AND too much blush?!

Dang it, they cut my line!


And so on. I don't know how people who had, like, more than two minutes of screen time were able to deal. Despite the pain, it was still a bummer that I only had three scenes (a 4th that I remember shooting must have been cut) and like, two lines. It's a weird dichotomy of hating to watch myself, yet wishing I was on screen more. I guess it's just the actor's compulsion towards face time. The same thing that forces me to the front row in dance class, even in styles at which I suck. Scowl, Hip hop.

Anyway. The movie itself could be described as sci-fi thriller. What is it about? Hm. I can only offer the analogy of a fat man's plate at Ryan's Buffet. Buffalo wings, macaroni and cheese, snow crab legs, fried okra, spagetti and meatballs, shrimp dumplings, coleslaw, and a couple greasy rolls, ending with swirl soft-serve topped with gummi bears. In other words, a delicious, stomach-churning mess. If you're interested in seeing it, hit me up for my copy, since it's not likely to be making it to a big screen near you. You'll probably want to prep with more than one beer though.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Bite-sized Performing

This weekend, I'm taking part in one of my very favorite theatrical activities: a staged reading. I love doing these because they are:

A.) Labor non-intensive. Little or no rehearsal, usually a one-time thing so it doesn't take up the whole weekend, much less multiple weekends. No costumes or makeup, or even blocking (generally).

B.) Suited to my particular talents. I don't claim to be good at a lot of things--in fact, I stink at pretty much all skills considered highly valuable by modern American society. So I don't think I'm bragging when I say that I am really, really good at reading aloud (my ideal career would be to record audio books!).

C.) Quintessentially creative. Most staged readings are done in order to bring a new work off the page and into the mouths of real people, which is arguably the most important function of dramatic literature. Silently reading a play is very different from hearing it aloud, even sans production elements, and in certain cases it's absolutely essential to understanding it (Chekhov comes to mind).
     I love being part of the process of bringing new work to life. Staged readings are generally done when a play is still in its most embryonic form. It's invaluable to the author to hear their words, both to catch continuinity issues and to hear alternative interpretations (as anyone who's had a high school lit class debate can attest, no two people will interpret the same book in the same way).
    Additionally, working with a play at the early stage makes me feel integral to the act of storytelling--which is, as I've said before on this blog--what draws me to the creative arts. It's like planting a little seed and watching it grow!

So that's my theatre-geeky Saturday night plans. With perhaps a little late-night Downton Abbey catch-up later. It's an exciting life I lead, no?

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Geekdom: No Place for Hate

I will be seeing The Avengers this weekend. Since my husband is Patrick it's not like I had a choice, but I think it will be enjoyable. With prepurchased tickets at one of those dinner-and-a-flick places, even reserved seating (yes, it's at thing), it's shaping up to be quite an ordeal event.

This movie has been a twinkle in the hubs's eye for a long time, and he loves his comics. Seriously: he's been emphatically punching the air at even the most subtle reference to the Avengers for the past five years. So I've gone online and schooled myself on the movie and the Marvel universe so I could conversate with him on this, his favorite thing ever. In my mind, supportive wifely investments such as these earn me a few loving jabs at his total nerdiness. During the most recent of these conversations (during which he was practically glowing with pleasure at my hard-won larnin', I might add) he ribbed me about liking the Twilight franchise in the same way.

My first instinct was to shut that down with a sharp denial, which I did. (I mean, does having read the books and seen the movies really constitute super-fandom? Another discussion for another time, perhaps). But that got me thinking. Why was I irked, almost offended by the insinuation? Tumblr (and by extension, Pinterest and Facebook) is filled with memes hating on Bella et al (specifically) and vampire lit (generally). If their prevelence is any indication, people devote a lot of time and energy to advertising their hatred.

It's a known fact that everything that has lovers has haters. With pop culture, it seems that the more popular something is (especially if it mainstreams), the more it will be reviled later. I still remember vividly the middle school dance at which the hapless DJ put on "I Saw the Sign"--a sure crowd pleaser two months ago--only to have the whole student body exit the cafeteria in disgust. In that moment, I felt a rush of excitement at displaying with my peers our disdain for this newly-has-been megahit. The thrill was at least equal, maybe superior, to my love of the song only a few months before.

But the love-to-hate rush is not limited to 8th graders. Just today I was on Amazon trying to figure out what's up with this book Fifty Shades of Gray, which is so popular Dr. Oz devoted his show to it...and it had at least as many one-star reviews as five. One poster of a particularly detailed and lengthy review claimed to "hate writing negative reviews," when clearly he enjoyed it immensely.

I call this the hater effect. For whatever reason, it feels so good to hate things that other [lesser?] people like. The HE is a negative emotion that's nearly universal; I mean, not even schadenfreude can claim to have founded a subculture (I'm looking at you, hipsters). The hipster backlash itself is an prime example of the HE; no one is more likely to scoff at hipsters than a hipster.

It seems like the more you like something (i.e. geek out about it) the more you open yourself to criticism. Another example: I was at a party once talking to my friend about another girl's outfit (nice things--we liked it!). But we had to kind of roll our eyes because this girl, when my friend called her up for a pre-party wardrobe consult, refused to divulge her party outfit. It was immediately obvious why at the party: the outfit was very similar to one famously worn by a celebrity. Thinking back, why she was too ashamed to admit liking the outfit enough to copy it is mysterious. After all, she was rockin' it just as hotly as the original celeb.  

Very little is sacred. The formula for escaping the HE is to either be cult enough to duck the main of mainstream (Dr. Horrible's Sing-a-long Blog) or to become a veritable masthead of our generation--(ahem, Harry Potter**). I even saw a Post Secret pridefully "confessing" that s/he refused to read, among other pop lit titles, The Hunger Games simply because they were popular. (Interesting to note: this same person admitted on the other side of the card that Harry Potter didn't count!). Recall that Post Secret is an anonymous art project where submitters confess secrets they have never been able to share with anyone else. It seems like the shame hit this submitter on multiple levels.

But why should we be ashamed of the things we like, just because other people--maybe a lot of other people--like them? Could not our distaste and vitriol be more usefully directed--say, at child molestors and people who talk in the theatre (ha! see how I did that)? Is it not braver, and maybe even more admirable, to cut the righteous indignation and baldly admit to liking something it's no longer "cool" to like? Although I still emphatically disavow that Twilight is something I'm "geeky" about (The Little Mermaid...OK, let's talk.), should it really be offensive to be accused of such? Would it have been commendable of me to tell Patrick that yes, in spite of lackluster writing and the fact that it's intended for teenagers, I rather enjoyed reading Twilight, thank you very much? Honestly, I said to my loving husband, I only wish I had written it. We'd be millionaires now.

Food for thought, dear reader.

**Although even HP has been maligned by some for supporting witchcraft and homosexuality, but those maligners have mostly been labeled crackpots and bigots.

Friday, March 30, 2012

I feel ya, Katniss

Like half the world, I saw The Hunger Games last weekend. I read the books last summer and the movie stayed pretty true to the text, although--probably because the first person limited narration of the book is so very internal--not everything transfered to the screen with same potency. But there were certain moments that actually stood out more on the screen than the page.

One such moment that struck a chord was the infamous apple scene. OK actors, have you, or have you not, felt EXACTLY like that during at least one audition in your life. Notice it's not a question.

You're the very last person to show your stuff in a long long day. Those on the other side of the table offer you and your resume only the most cursory of glances. Sure, your career/sense of self-worth/life is on the line, but they can only spare you a yawn and half a chance. They're late-day loopy, they're probably talking about the season finale of the X Factor, they're definitely hungry (roast pig, why not?). At the beginning of your song/archery demo, you falter--just for a half second--but apparantly that's all you get. Doesn't matter if you sail through the rest of your song like Maria-frickin'-Callas--you've lost them. Tell me, who in this moment HASN'T felt like zinging something pointy through their smug-ass eye ball. What makes the scene so satisfying is that unlike the rest of us lily-livers, Katniss actually does it. (Perhaps we can be excused our cowardice because, I don't care how bad you want that part, the stakes just aren't as high). I totally love how she bows and thanks them for their attention, goes for the huffy exit...and forgets to put the bow back. Then can't get it on the stand right. BRILLIANT!

I vaguely made the same connection when I read that part in the book, but it stood out a lot more in action. The writers might even have been giving a little wink-nod to the audition process with that scene.

Monday, March 19, 2012

To Know Hope

So the inevitable moment arrived this Saturday--the letter from GSU informing me that my application was "not approved" (you can tell a bunch of counselors came up with that nonsense wording). Not exactly shocking news, but it still stung to see the concept of you're-not-good-enough laid out so concretely. The letter assured me that every single person had reviewed every single aspect of my application thoroughly before a decision was rendered. I did not find that remotely comforting. It's all too easy to imagine those jokers sitting around the table and cackling--or worse, shrugging ambivalently--as they throw my papers on the nay pile.

I came across an eerily relevant article this morning, as sometimes happens when you're mind is dwelling on something, on the psychology of optimism ( If you read my previous posts, you know that one of the things that was really bothering me was how my instinct that I did well was (obviously) wrong. Turns out it's actually a thing: the same thing, in fact, that makes 90% of people think they're an above-average driver and Steve Jobs think he could beat cancer with acupuncture and psychic healing. Money quote:

“Most of us view the world as more benign than it really is, our own attributes as more favorable than they truly are, and the goals we adopt as more achievable than they are likely to be.”

I'm the kind of person who is soothed by logic and explanations, so I find it comforting to assign a phenomenon to my folly (Certainly more so then the dubious assurance: "don't worry, it wasn't just one of us that didn't like you. ALL of us didn't! HA HA!"). Not quite as comforting was the rest of the article. It went on to explain that people who persist in optimism, despite the signs that giving up would be wise, suffer twice the losses. Sheesh. It's enough to make me want to hole up at the front desk and answer phones till I'm wrinkly. At least I know I can do that.

But then I got a second letter that changed the course of things. Yesterday was the final performance of the kids' show I choreographed. It was like the end of summer camp for the kids, complete with tears and loud renditions of Wicked songs. Perhaps spurred by these turbid emotions, one of the ensemble actors gave me a note. On it was a true testament to Why I Bother. This girl (a middle schooler, the age group I want to work with) confessed that before this show, she'd had zero confidence in her abilities, and now she felt like she could reach the moon because of my support of and belief in her. She never could've known that it was exactly what I needed to hear. I fancied that had it been a group of the kids who would actually use a school counselor that reviewed my application, instead of a bunch of PhDs, the outcome might have been different. Overoptimism be damned, it was enough to give me the courage to apply again, to another school, one that is truly right for me. It's funny how a penciled note, just a folded up piece of lined notebook paper, meant more to me than would have crisp letter head inked "Congratulations".

Monday, March 5, 2012

Misfire - Part Trois

This is the third and final post of the intuition - or lack thereof- series. This is chronologically the last in a quick succession of life events that have been, in laymen terms, pretty shitty.

Then there's work. As in, the place I spend most of my waking hours, that allows me to eat and be an artist at the same time. It's pretty well publicized that in December I was un-promoted from my HR position back to the front desk. A bummer for sure, but a helluvalot better than being demoted (the position just didn't have enough work to be full time) or worse, terminated.

But I think it's finally sinking in that I am never, ever going anywhere at my current company. They just don't see me as being fully capable.

I came to this realization last week, when we had our yearly meeting for all the managers in our company. I'm not usually invited, and I do little more than make name tags and track the RSVPs. This year (perhaps because the dinner was a buffet and not sit-down) the staff was also invited. And bless my dumb little heart, I thought that meant I was finally going to contribute something more significant than tent card place settings. My eye was especially on a project I've been heavily involved with: a Wellness Campaign. Now it's true that I haven't been involved with the budget, or with the initial decision to do the campaign. But since we've rolled it out, I've been the main point of contact for the whole deal, the figurehead if you will. Most of my task hours are related to it. It was my analysis that first pointed out that we needed managers to get more involved if we wanted the project to have any kind of visibility or traction with the employees. And wouldn't you know it, here we were with a meeting of all the managers coming up. Can you see where I'm going with this?

This is a great opportunity for a small presentation on the Wellness Campaign. And who better to do it than me? It's no secret at my office that I'm a performer--obviously adept at public speaking. And I'm very good at researching and organizing, as I've been told before. I even know how to make a mean power point. Well, my bosses thought a presentation was a great idea. But it didn't even remotely occur to them that I could do it. In fact, I wasn't even INVITED to the morning part of the meeting when the campaign was addressed. Later, of course, I was permitted to bring in the free lunch totes the insurance company had given us to pass out.

It really made realize that I've hit a professional wall. Women hold some powerful positions in my company; you wouldn't ever expect there to be a glass ceiling. I should've seen it earlier, when I was promoted to HR but still not taught most of the processes involved, or even entrusted with a key to the personnel files. I think I would have seen it earlier, if I hadn't been told again and again how great my work is, and how I have a rosy future here with the company. Yeah sure. A rosy future answering phones till I'm gray. I don't mind working for other people; it's actually my preferred style. But I like to be trusted with at least modicum of responsibility. I have a college degree, and I'm not an entry level worker anymore. I am capable of so much more than this.

So to recap. Had a great audition: not even a callback. Grad school: rejected. Work presentation: dream on. All this within a 10-day span. It wouldn't have been a wonder if I'd been depressed, but honestly, not until writing it all out today have I felt even mildly bummed. Maybe it's that same dulling of the senses that has made me, in each of these scenarios, a.) not very nervous, b.) not very upset at the result, and most significantly, c.) not very perceptive.

It's like in one of my favorite movies, The Last Unicorn (stop laughing). The unicorn has been disguised as a human for a while and has started to forget who she really is, even to the point of falling for a human man. The villian, able to sneak up on her when he never could before, remarks "love is slowing you down." And so it is for me. My love for Tennyson is so all-consuming that things that used to excruciatingly matter before no longer hold their power over me.

I'm sorry. This isn't a baby blog and it wasn't supposed to turn into a baby post. My purpose was to explore how my normally sharp intuition, my gut feeling which I normally trust with all my heart, could have been so utterly, terribly off on three separate occasions. But I believe in the redemptive power of love--all kinds of love--and its ability to save us. So if my gut is a little off, but I can still be at peace at the end of a long day of disappointments because I know I'm coming home to that little face who will light up like a beacon at first sight of me, I can't mourn the loss.

Misfire - Part Dos

The second part of a 3-part series. Read the first post below.

Until that Friday. You may or may not know, since I haven't been very vocal about it, but I've been applying to grad schools to be a school counselor. Part of the grand life plan, ya know. More on that another time.

Really, I should say "school." Because although I initially had a list of five or six potential programs, pregnancy disrupted my plans, and I only ended up actually applying to one school, Georgia State. I was OK with that because it just so happened to be my first choice. Not just because it's here in the city--although that's huge--but the program is very good.

I actually applied last year, and I was chosen from the initial pool of more than 100 applicants to interview for a spot. But because of aforementioned baby, I asked if I could roll the app over to next year. One of the faculty members, viewing my application materials, was very encouraging. I believe her exact words were "there's absolutely no reason why we wouldn't want to see you again next year."

I did indeed get an email at the end of January, inviting me to interview at GA State for a spot in the program. (It was really nice--kind of like getting cast in a play without having to audition.) I brushed up on my goals and interview techniques, took the whole day off, put on my best duds and went down there, chin up. It was a grueling series of interviews, one group and two private. I had the group first, which seemed ideal. Other interviewees would diffuse the nervous energy and fill any conversational holes. Plus, the moderator wasn't even part of the actual school counseling faculty (although in retrospect, maybe that worked against me). Because I felt like I stood out in the group, or at the very least held my own.

Then I had to take a breast pumping break. It was good because I got to go over my notes and practice what I was going to say. BUT I didn't get to talk to the current students who were floating around, "answering questions" but most likely also spying for the admissions committee.

My next two interviews were with, I later learned, the most hard-ass of the four interviewers. The first one was pretty intimidating--I don't think she smiled AT ALL--but I still felt like I answered all the questions coherently and originally. My second interview happened to also be the last one of the session. By then I think she had relaxed a bit, and I felt like we had a great conversation. We talked about how giving up my current situation is scary, but a risk worth taking (Note: this was the self-same faculty member who had encouraged me in rolling over my app the year prior).

There were about 25 people interviewing that day, and there was supposed to be about as many in a second afternoon session. There were only spots for 20-22 people. I'm sure everyone was thinking the same thing as I: only half of us will be accepted...I'll certainly be one of them. I was feeling so confident that I actually started to get nervous about how I was going to manage the rent on our new place with only one income. They told us that if we were accepted, we would get an unofficial congratulations email "ASAP."

ASAP is kind of a vague term of course. But because of some other parts of the same conversation, I had the distinct impression it would be within the next two or three days. Those who were rejected, on the other hand, wouldn't hear anything at all until that thin envelope arrives in the mail weeks later.

I didn't even check my email all weekend--that's how un-nervous I felt about it. On Monday, I half expected to see something in my inbox, but no. By Wednesday, I had started to check my junk know what I'm talking about. On Friday, a friend sent me an encouraging note and I again felt like acceptance was in the realm of possibility. Today, the only acceptance I'm feeling is the final stage in the grieving process.

OK, so I'm not exactly grieving. Not over getting rejected anyway (I can always apply again later, or to another school. Life is long). It's more so because, once again, somehow being totally off in my perception of the situation. I'm no cock-eyed optimist. I don't believe in The Secret or the power of positive thinking, at least in terms of its ability to influence real life events. In other other words, I am pretty realistic. And I really did think I aced those interviews. How in the world can I be so wrong? Twice in the same week?

Misfire - Part One

This ol' tough shell has taken a triple whammy over the past few weeks. (Stop snickering, guys. I really do have a tough shell!) Part one of this three-part series on rejection and intuition follows.

First, I auditioned for the play Doubt. I haven't performed in a long time, but it was a cold-reading audition, which is a strong suit. A stipend was offered, so that makes it more worth the time away from home. Rehearsals were a few times a week, all evenings and weekends. Also, the character is a prudish and somewhat timid teacher--I mean, I wouldn't even have to act, right? (Ha.) And the theatre was located right near the new house we'll be moving to soon. Pretty much an ideal scenario.
So I sent my headshot and resume to the SM, and I arranged to audition after a long evening of choreography rehearsal with my kids for my current show. I made it there early, they were running behind, I read for the part with the actor who was already cast in the role opposite...and I nailed it.
Folks, I felt really good about this audition. Any of you guys who have auditioned before (or really, anyone who watches American Idol) know that feeling when you did a good job. Of course, you never know if they'd ultimately prefer someone taller/shorter/older/younger than you in the role, and that can't be helped. But I was confident I'd be back on Wednesday for the callbacks; so confident, in fact, that I was asking the stage manager about rehearsal scheduling.
But I didn't even get a callback!
I really should have known. I've auditioned for this particular theatre several times before, and I never. ever. ever. get cast. The leading ladies that get cast tend to skew towards the - how can I put this delicately - higher BMI than myself. I'm sure it's a coincidence, and if it's not, it's actually pretty awesome, since the skew is usually in the dead opposite direction.

But that's not the point. The point is how dead awful wrong my intuition was. Am I just rusty after being away from the stage for a while? Am I getting complacent? I have no problem being rejected for a role--it's happened a million times. I am much much less OK with my internal barometer of success being off-kilter.

But hey, walk it off. Whatever, it really should be Patrick's turn to do a show anyway. And that intuition malfunction? Probably just a fluke.

Monday, January 16, 2012


Recently, I heard word of a literary journal requesting submissions of poems and short fiction for its spring biannual, and decided to give it a shot. Long time followers (all two of them) might recall that I am also a writer. (I outlined the plot of a novel in 2008, and worked at it - albeit sporadically - for more than two years. Sadly, all my work is stuck on a broken jump drive. At my fingertips, but inaccessible, all because of a very small bend in the metal. I haven't had the heart to start over). The submissions are judged on merit alone, no previous publications or clips required, so why not toss a couple poems and a short story in the pot? But what to write? I needed ideas.
There are, it seems to me, two primary schools of thought about inspiration. First, the "devine spark" theory, the notion that good ideas simply pop into one's head unbidden. The proverbial light bulb over the head, keep a notepad beside your bed, lightening strike creative jolts that come from either the subconcious or possibly from - dare I say it - thin air.
The second theory is that inspiration not so much God-given as hard-won. These are the authors who schedule writing into their day like a full time job, plunking down in front of their computers and typing, whether or not they have anything to say. The hope is that some of the ideas that come out these work sesssions will be good ones, or will lead to good ones later on.
I wrote a lot of poetry when I was younger, and back then, I held fast to the first (and let's admit it--much more romantic) notion. And why shouldn't I? At 14 everything is fodder for a song. I just had so many FEELINGS. I couldn't think of anything more antithical, not to mention more depressing, that having to write like it's a job (I mean, isn't that kind of opposite of the point?).
But at my ripe old age of 29, I'm beginning to hold with theory numero dos. At any rate, I can certainly say that though I had plans to submit a few poems and a short story, here I am two days before the deadline with only one lonely poem to share. Is it because that's all I have to say? Certainly not. I just never sat down and made myself do it. Perhaps if I had, inspiration would have struck.
Where do you think inspiration comes from?