Honouring the inspiration

Inspired by Talis Kimberly, I find myself thinking about how we manage the flows of creativity, and what constitutes an honourable response to inspiration. For some, the awen is hard won, and the finding of ideas is a difficult process. For others, awen is a constant fountain of possibility. I suspect most of us move about between those two points, depending on other variables in our lives.

If you believe in the awen as a sacred force, then when inspiration comes, it does so as a divine gift, as a moment of significance, a spiritual engagement with the universe. To ignore that (as Talis pointed out on facebook yesterday) is a kind of blasphemy. Awen does not arrive to be a fleeting amusement or an opportunity to feel smug about how clever we are. It arrives with purpose, and to do something.

But, to do what?

Over the years I’ve found that those original flashes of inspiration are very seldom the whole. It’s like a door opening a crack. Often there then follows a process in which I have to work out how to open that door a bit further so that whatever wants to come through, comes through. Simply taking the first moment of inspiration and writing a song, a poem or a short story would be leaving the door just that crack open and never finding out where it went. This is all very personal, other people will work in other ways.

While I work in all kinds of forms, fiction and non-fiction, from tiny haikus through to epic novel series attempts, the novel was always my form of preference. Novels are not just one good idea. They are lots of ideas. The first flash of possibility isn’t going to turn into a novel all by itself. I have to wait, to seek more, to give the first ideas time to ferment and grow. Sometimes they wither away instead, and while that’s not a comfortable process, I’ve come to find it inevitable.

For me, the process of working with the awen involves quite a lot of time just sitting with it, being with the ideas and the possibilities until I start to see lines of connection between them. Taking the raw clay of an idea and playing with it to see if it might turn into a teapot or a really nice urn. Taking the sparks of inspiration and seeing if I can light a fire big enough to burn down half of my old ideas, and boil a kettle while I’m at it.

What I have seen, plenty of times along the way are people who do not take their inspiration forward. Folk who will devote hours to reimagining political systems, but who won’t put that anywhere more than a couple of people can see it, and would never muddy their hands with actual politics. People who imagine writing novels, but never put pen to paper. But then, for the greater part these have also been people who have never considered the idea of inspiration as inherently sacred. I should not, I know, judge too harshly, but it frustrates me nonetheless.

We only get this one life in any way we can be wholly certain about. Why wander round in a cloud of daydreams but never do anything to manifest the ideas that come to you?

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

7 responses to “Honouring the inspiration

  • autumnbarlow

    Alan Garner was featured on Countryfile last week, and he spoke of how he wrote his books. He is steeped in the folklore and landscape of Cheshire and he said he’d have a flash of idea. Then, months later, another flash of idea would occur and together they sparked something. Then, he’d make an appointment with himself in his study at 6pm every night and simply sit, staring into the fire as he let things coalesce in his mind until he was ready to begin the research.

  • kelitomlin

    I sometimes find myself filled with inspiration and the spark of potential creativity but actually expressing it is almost impossible. It is usually fear that binds me, a fear of not doing the inspiration justice; the gift of awen can feel like too big a responsibility and I admit I will shy away from it. But I’m always working towards opening and accepting more and building that trust in myself and the awen itself is good (if sometimes testing) work!

    • Nimue Brown

      A safe space to share in might help you with that. If you’ve got someone whose judgement you trust, and to whom you can offer things, that can make a lot of odds in building confidence as you get started. Everybody messes up, in performance, in production at some point, every now and then, regardless of levels of experience. It is nota thing to be too put off by, just a thing that happens, and oddly, once you have messed up in front of witnesses a few times, it gets less scary, and less important and you become more open.

      • kelitomlin

        Thank you for your wise words 🙂 I am lucky enough to have my hubby and a few close friends who offer me such space, and when I make use of their support I feel much more free.

        The trouble is I’m my own harshest critic and despite knowing I won’t injure/anger/disappoint them by being less than perfect I can find it impossible sometimes to get past my own internal judgement – perhaps I simply can’t bear to fail myself! – and so never reach the sharing stage.

        But I will keep challenging the fear and keep taking courage from blogs such as yours 🙂

  • lornasmithers

    I’ve found in every instance the Awen works differently. It can manifest in an image, phrase, a moment out in nature, a dream, vision or journeying. Sometimes it’s just one thing that can spark a whole poem. More often its many things coming together from different places and times, a combination of nature and myth and direct experience of deity. Inspiration is the gift of adhering to one’s quest.

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