On creativity, writing, and why this is hard.
 
Creativity is a miracle. But not for the reasons you may think.

There's the famous Mozart letter, in which the great composer outlines how he summons the muse and transcribes her benificence. 

"Then my soul is on fire with inspiration, if however nothing occurs to distract my attention. The work grows; I keep expanding it, conceiving it more and more clearly until I have the entire composition finished in my head though it may be long… It does not come to me successively, with its various parts worked out in detail, as they will be later on, but it is in its entirety that my imagination lets me hear it."


But the letter is a fake. It's a fraud. Mozart never wrote this letter because he didn't work like this. He sat at the piano--he could not compose without one--and banged out tunes, which he transcribed and reworked and suffered over. You know, just like the rest of us.


It's the last day of September today (no matter what it feels like outside), and I have once again managed to write 50,000 words in a calendar month, a thing which I have now done eleven months in a row, after having done it only one time in my life before that. It's a miracle.


No, it really is a miracle. But the miracle isn't that I've all of a sudden stumbled on a vast trove of inspiration (for illustration, for people that don't know word counts, in the last eleven months I've written The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe sixteen times over, or for a different example, Harry Potter V twice). I have no more inspiration now than I did in March, or January, or May or December. What I do have--and this is the miracle--is the discipline to put my butt in a chair and my fingers on a keyboard, and type.


Those that know me know just how great a miracle that is. It has, nonetheless, come to pass. I've finished over twenty short stories, three novels from scratch, and two more that were half-done when I started this journey. I wrote eight short stories this month (six of them published here). I don't really know if anyone read them. Certainly no more than a bare handful did, and no one that I don't know personally and well. That's depressing. It makes it exceptionally difficult to write.


I think the writing is better now than it was when I started. I hope so. It's been a lot of work. But that's what creativity is: work. Labor. Sweat and struggle. If it weren't, why wouldn't everyone do it?


You want to write a novel? Here's the secret: Don't go to bed until you've written.


Yeah. That's it. It's the same thing I use for reading the scriptures, or praying, or anything else that I think is critically important. I just don't go to sleep until I do it. That's the miracle. Whether anyone is reading or not, whether what I write is getting better or not, I DO NOT GO TO BED UNTIL I'VE WRITTEN MY WORDS.


I don't know if it will pay off, in the sense that I will become my wife's favorite nickname for me--world-famous author. Honestly, I doubt it. There are a lot of good writers out there, and most of them are invisible. But I know this: I'm a writer, because I write. Even when it's hard, even when it's excruciating. I have to believe if the only thing I get out of it is that one of the world's great grasshoppers has learned to ant, it will still be worth it.


Many, many thanks for providing a ray of hope. I don't forget it, nor take it for granted.


Cj


P.S. If you have a favorite from this last month, will you let me know in the comments which it is?


P.P.S If you have a subject, a photo, or a song that you'd like a story written about, let me know. I'm between stories at the moment.


P.P.P.S. This is not quite true. I just spent a week in Detroit, and there's enough material there for a hundred stories. I'm writing one now, called Building Eighteen. I have no idea where the story is going.