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?