Sunday, January 18, 2009

Luna Moth Flying Girl, or Inspiration

Luna Moth Flying Girl, or Inspiration
reads: She flies by night, into the pale
Prismacolor Watercolor Pencils, Golden Fluid Acrylics, Pitt Artist Pens on Paper

How ironic that on the day I wanted to write a post about Honoring my Inspiration for this book group, I was stymied by not having any.

No inspiration. No energy. No paintings. No blogging. Nothing to say.

Eventually, I worked something out struggling for a couple of days, but finishing too late to get good photo session light.

Maybe my psyche is trying to say something about the way inspiration and I go together.

That traditional view of inspiration that comes out of the blue and takes artists over is as delicate and elusive as the beautiful Luna Moth. They fly only at night, only a couple of times a year.

And did you know that Luna Moths have no mouths? That's right. No mouths. They do not exist to live. They exist only to reproduce and then they die. Fine, they leave their offspring to continue on, but I can not wait for my Luna Moth of inspiration.

I think inspiration for me is a lot harder work that catching a moth.

I think it's about showing up and practicing my craft. I think it's about following through with ideas and constantly revising as I go. This is not to say that I don't sometimes get taken over by the muse and get to float around in the deep night of inspiration, creating and making art and often forgetting to eat. No, that happens, but I can't depend upon it.

For instance, my novel. I've been working on it for about three years now. It started with a small idea... an inspiration, if you will, that fired me up. But I will tell you now, that if I had jumped on that inspiration, it would have died out. Instead, I held on to it. I wrote it down and let it sit there. I waited for more inspiration to join it. And slowly, the world in my head began to grow. I asked questions, like 'why' and 'how' and 'where' and 'who?' I kept searching for keys that would unlock the doors of this story, of the creativity. And then I started writing, very slowly.

And then I stopped. I was busy with a baby, you see. But when I remembered that nanowrimo was coming, I dusted it off... I didn't write anymore... no I worked at the ideas. I paid attention to characters, I wrote an outline, I researched things, I continued the work of gathering inspiration that would build into an idea which was sustainable.

Then in the furious weeks of nanowrimo, I wrote it all out. One might look at nano and say that it couldn't produce a good novel, but that would just be looking at the one session of "inspired" writing, and not all the work and commitment that went into building it.

Two years later, I'm still working on that book. On revisions and the second in the series. Two years later and inspiration is lovely when it hits, and that flow of inspiration might be what keeps me going on those days when nothing is coming, but it's the work that wrote the book. It's the work that makes one an artist.

If I keep showing up at my desk or my sketchbook, the inspiration will come. Like a moth to a flame, perhaps? But we have to keep that flame burning, even when we feel like it's our blood we're using as fuel.

Tee hee.

Just a little bit dramatic there.

But this is about honoring my inspiration, and I think in order to do that, I have to honor my process... truly what I think this blog is about... and I have to honor the hard work that goes into it. And I have to honor when there is no inspiration and my head is empty or too heavy or too tired to continue on.

I still don't have the key. I don't know how to make myself inspired all the time and constantly creative and productive without end. I think that's not possible. I think we have to honor ourselves for when we DON'T create. I think we have to not give up, even when it feels like there is no other way to go on.

Keep going.

That's honoring my inspiration, my faith in myself. Keep going. Don't give up. Even if I don't write a poem for five years, that poet is still there. Honor the silence, too.


Genie Sea said...

Honor the silence too, for in the stillness of quiet, a Luna Moth is born.

The process. Like a river, stumbling over rocks, flowing, meandering, sidetracking, re-merging flow.

Beautiful process. :)

Kavindra said...

Sing it sister! SO true, that we can't just sit and wait for the elusive moth to land, we have to put in the committment. Words I need to hear constantly over and over, so thank you for that.

Connie Carpenter Macko said...

I'm no Lepidopterist... but isn't there a caterpillar and a coccon involved before you even get to the moth part?! The creative process takes time - and there are no time limits here! Always remember to be kind to yourself. Your moth will always come back - eventually! thank you for sharing!

Rowena said...

Omg. Connie. I can't believe I left the other stages of a moth out of my metaphor, because they so belong to my process, and I often feel so bad when I am in that cocoon phase of silence, where you are growing and developing, and the struggle it takes to get out of that cocoon... but knowing the struggle is necessary or the blood won't get to the wings to make them strong enough to fly.

And of course, the work horse of the caterpillar (are moths caterpillars, too?) munching along, munching along, spinning its cocoon (and these are related to silkworms, so imagine how valuable even the cocoon is.)

I swear, it was a coincidence that the luna moth popped into my head when I read the illustration friday prompt of pale. Or perhaps it wasn't, and that was what my subconscious needed to make sense of my quiet time, before the inspiration.

Anonymous said...

Work and effort ARE your inspirations.

I think you know something here that many people never learn: that it is the work, the day to day work, that keeps the ideas coming.

You know -- the whole idea of "priming the pump."

There is a very fine line between over-mystifying and demystifying the artistic process.

The mystery lies in the subconscious rendering of ideas; the reality lies in the day to day showing up.

It sounds like you have found that balance for yourself.

mapelba said...

That Luna Moth is going to stay in my head--and if it has no mouth to speak with, it will flutter its wings instead.

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