An Empty Vessel


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Published: October 4th 2008EDIT THIS ENTRY

I find myself contemplating the mechanisms that drive my creative endeavors, and how it is that I am writing more in Mexico than I usually do at home. Not being very prolific anyway, my usual method is to wait for a kernel of inspiration to pop into my head, and then start writing until the idea is at fruition. That does not mean I am finished with the work. It only means my vessel is empty. If I have to plod along after the creative spark is extinguished, my labors are not as satisfactory to me. I suppose that points to a lack of discipline and craft. Should I only wait for inspiration to strike, or should I expand from inspiration through the sweat of craft?
Take my poetry writing for example. From time to time I have gone to poetry writing workshops with a well-known poet who teaches at Wayne State University. After the reading of my work, the verses are commented on by the other participants and the workshop leader. The feedback I get is that the content is powerful, but the form does not follow any of the rules for good writing. This I know already. I answer that the traditional, academic format does not convey the content and emotion as expressively as the free form I embrace. At least that is what I tell them. Of course, the real reason is I am just too lazy and obstinate to learn the rules, preferring to bend the detractors to my will and my way. Perhaps I should buy a book on poetry writing or take a class. Or perhaps I should give up and admit that poetry is not my forte.
Here in Mexico, many more ideas come to me, and I believe it is due to the newness of the environment. Living is more of a challenge and I have to think about scores of things that I would take for granted back home, such as how to get my laundry done, use the sink or fill the car with gas. Imagination and creativity are invoked heavily for even the basic needs of life and the environment demands greater attentiveness and observational skills.
Perhaps that is the reason some writers seek adventure and experience. It stirs the mind and adds unique perspective and insight to both their normal lives at home and the different ways people live in other places. Observations on what is the same in human nature regardless of geographic and cultural boundaries can be made, as well as what is different. Those insights provide fodder for the mind as Mother Nature provides inspiration to the heart. A sunrise over a mountaintop when you normally live as a flatlander is awesome to see, stirring up feelings that must be expressed if the muse lives in you.
I think I will see things differently when I return, and take a more worldview outlook. The routines in my life may not seem routine anymore, if I look at them through the eyes of a foreigner. Things I take for granted will become more precious to me, both because I am thankful to have them and because I had to live without them for at least a short while.
I wonder if the newness will wear off here in Mexico? Will I begin to take things for granted again, once the experiences have been cataloged in my brain, hardwired into my synapses so the paths to my actions require less imagination? I hope not, but I believe it will take a conscious effort to always see things as something new, working my brain overtime to create new chemical pathways between the hemispheres of my mind and intellectual pathways between the hemispheres of earth and heaven. That is where the poets live.


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