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The Search For Inspiration

Over the past few weeks, I feel like whatever creative spirit has generally come to move me in the past has abandoned me. In some ways, I suspect it’s related to my job. Finding out I’m getting an unwarranted pay cut after being told my multiple managers, for nearly 2 years, that I am one of their best and most solid writers sort of put a dent in my inspiration. After all, if I have talent, shouldn’t that be rewarded at a higher level as time goes on, not a lower one?

The company I work for has implemented a “feedback” system, where you get paid according to the quality of work you’ve done, or others have judged you’ve done. In order to prepare for this step, they’d been “grading” our articles for nearly a month. Of course, I asked to see mine, since it’s always now in my best interest to write flawless articles. I discovered that previous managers had lied to me; my grades for work I’d done were more often than not,simply average, and sometimes below average. I’d been led to believe for years that the work I was doing was really exceptional, in terms of quality, and that’s the reason some of my issues with extended absences and lateness with work due to illness had been tolerated. To find out that my abilities, or what I do with my time each day, is merely “average” put a bit of a dent in my self-esteem.

Since then, I find that I’m really not able to successfully create. I’d been working on updating and editing some existing short stories and poetry, and on writing at least a few new poems each month. I’d started on my “bucket list’ item of writing a novel, and compiled over 50,000 words before I stopped working on it. Since the average book is 80,000 words, that’s a huge achievement, particularly for me.

The lack of creativity hasn’t been confined to my writing endeavours, though. I’m quite behind on Swap-Bot projects, because the fun and spontaneity of creating something to mail to a stranger just isn’t there. I have a number of art projects waiting for attention, saying “Hey, do this! It’s fun!”. I haven’t read a book in ages, despite the fact the The Guy I’m Currently Dating bought me a Kindle Fire for my birthday. (it didn’t arrive until last weekend, but I was delighted to see the selection of free classics I’ve been meaning to read for ages.)

Even getting dressed to go out is sort of “blah” lately…I keep wearing the same old stuff, because doing something interesting seems like a lot of work.

I am the picture of apathy, in general, because I’m not really inspired by, or to do, anything at all. There’s not even anything on TV I want to watch these days. It’s sad when the most entertaining show on my viewing list is The Real Housewives Of Whatever.

I used to be a very passionate and creative, life-loving person. It’s annoying that such traits abandoned me, through a combination of illness, winter, and a general belief that I’ve lived an entire life deluding myself: there’s nothing that special about me after all.

Last night, at about 1 AM, I did have a bit of a creative breakthrough. I realised that progress on my “novel-in-progress” had stalled because it lacked direction and focus. I wasn’t writing things in order; rather, I was writing a collection of short anecdotes with no logical progression. Consequently, since I jumped around from one period of time to another, the voice of my main character seemed inconsistent. It’s almost as if I were writing two books.

So, after working for about an hour completing a chapter, I came to the realisation that the story I wanted to tell wasn’t a novel. It was two books, told in form of “chapters” that were short stories that might even stand on their own. Somehow, I’d gotten this vision in my head, and ended up working on two different books simultaneously.

Of course, I don’t flatter myself that anyone would care to read one book by me, much less two, but once I sat down and came up with an outline of the stories I wanted to tell, I again felt enthusiasm for the project. I could see some sort of organization, pieces falling together, and that excited me. In fact, I became so excited about it that I couldn’t fall asleep until 5:30 AM.

I don’t know if I will ever finish my book….or two…but I would like to. I’d like to have the rough drafts of these pieces completed this year, and that’s very much an achievable goal if I work at it. I don’t know if anyone will ever read my book, or if I even want anyone to do so (it seems I’m too thin-skinned for the life of criticism and rejection that comes with being an artist, although I’ve spent 30 years trying to fight against that. ), but it means a lot to me to know I’m capable of starting a complex and interesting idea and actually finishing it. Progress on the project always ends up feeling just a little like therapy to me.

It would be great if I could simply stay inspired, and not let the little setbacks get me down. Does it matter if I’m not really as talented as I thought? (of course it does. One of the main reasons I stopped singing and acting is because I started to feel I wasn’t as good as I thought I was, and I was only on a path of getting older and less desirable…which is, of course, something that has inevitably happened.) Does it matter if I feel I’m not being paid what I’m worth? I’m sure over half of the American population feels that way, and while I like the security of making money consistently, I do have other projects to supplement my income. I could even look for a new job, although I just haven’t been inspired to do that.

So, where does inspiration and motivation come from? More importantly, how can I make it stick around and work for me?

I guess a good start is to actually do my work, rather than blogging at 2 PM> :P

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