It has been my experience that many people actually believe that writers live in a state of perpetual inspiration. Maybe this is the source of that annoying "Where do you get your ideas from?" question. Maybe the people who believe writers live in a state of perpetual inspiration are the same people who ask that question, thinking — wrongly — that there's a trick of some sort involved. And if a writer would but tell them the trick, then they too would have access to the bottomless well of ideas and live in a state of perpetual inspiration. In my case, at least, there is no bottomless fucking well of ideas, and if I only wrote when I truly felt inspired, I'd starve and live in a cardboard box at the corner of Crack and Whore (which is to say, the corner of Ponce and Piedmont). But, that said, there does have to be a spark. What people ought to be asking me is "Where do you get those tiny, little infinitesimally faint sparks that you then somehow manage to blow up into ideas?"
Of course, my answer would be, "I have no inkling whatsoever."
Yesterday was all sparks. I sat here at this keyboard, and stared and stared and stared. I stared for hours. I threw sparks like a goddamn steel mill. I began one piece that turned out to be a dead end. I did the same with a second piece. And finally, I accepted that it wasn't happening. I cannot force it. I have never been able to force it. Like I've said before, writing is a wild magic (at least it is for me). It comes when it's ready, and then, if I'm lucky, I have some small say in where it goes and what it does. This is one reason I can't comprehend why some writers talk so much about "craft." Crafts are something you learn how to do. I never learned to write. I write better now than I did ten years ago, and far better than I did twenty years ago, but I'm not exactly sure why. To me, it is an almost ineffable thing. I try to explain what it is I do, and how it is I do it...on those extremely rare occasions when I try to explain...and, for me, it's like grasping at air. I have no craft talk, no theory, no dos and don'ts, no discernible process. I sit here in my chair at my desk in front of the iMac, and when I'm lucky, it happens. It's not so much that I think the "writing as craft" people are wrong. They can't be wrong, not if they are crafting stories and know they are crafting stories. But I don't craft stories. So, for me, we have here these two different paradigms. I spark. They craft. Two incommensurable world views. I cannot explain to them what it is that I do. I cannot even explain it to myself. And I cannot comprehend what they do.
I tried very, very hard to write yesterday, to begin a piece for Sirenia Digest #21. But all I got were sparks.
Here we go again...