OK I wrote most of this like two months ago, so for the most part I’ve forgotten where i was going…but I’ll see if I can patch it together if only to get it out the door.
The story of how I got this book is worth telling. Mostly because I don’t even remember half of it:
Somewhere during my devouring of various texts in grad school, I came across a reference to this book, and so used Amazon’s “wish list” to make a note for myself of this. I used to just use it to keep lists of books that I found interesting and wanted to consider buying at some point.
Skip ahead 5 years to a point when I’ve happily forgotten about the book and the existence of said wish list. Jen is looking for something to get me for, a birthday I think, so she checks my wish list. SCORE! Sorta. Except that I had no idea why I wanted to read it in the first place. But I did, because I must have wanted to for some reason.
It was interesting. I found it to be an “honest internal examination of mania, insanity, religious epiphany and encounters with the muse”, or at least that’s what I had in my notes.
It really made me think about the concept of inspiration as it relates to writing, specifically my own encounters with internal fires. Those who know me may know that I used to write poetry. Occasionally at some points, and very frequently at others. Most of the time it was inspiration motivated (and I don’t mean inspiration in the mundane sense of “oh what a pretty sunset/structure/event/person/etc.”…although there was some of that, I mean it in the sense of art originating somewhere other than oneself) – it wasn’t that I would sit down and say “I need to write something”, it was this feeling of an upwelling from inside telling me “something is being written right now, you can choose to write it down, or forget it”.
And this often happened at night, as I was falling asleep. Very annoying. Many nights I would just fall asleep and try to ignore the words flashing around in the back of my head, and then live with my disappointment in myself the next day. These days I’m really good at ignoring it – not that it happens often at all – I’m so good I can tell when the feeling itself is just starting and ignore that root of the idea and completely circumvent exposing myself to the idea itself. It’s only slightly less depressing than being exposed to the words and not writing them down.
Tangent: I saw this great quote from Elvis Costello about this the other day…*googles*… here we go. Here’s the quote:
EC: Do you ever think, “I’m really tired. I should get up and write that down, but I’ll remember it in the morning”? Always write it down — there’s nothing more torturing than when you don’t write it down and you go, “I know I thought of a line, but I have no idea what it was.” I keep a notepad by the bed, and I learned how to write in the dark, so if a line comes in my head I don’t even need to turn the light on and write it.
Glad it’s not just me. Annoyed I never had much conviction in getting up at night and writing. Hopefully that those rushes of inspiration return to me someday, and I keep a notepad nearby.
Anyway, yeah the book. It’s about one man’s spiritual awakening and, even if you think it’s all BS, it’s still pretty interesting to watch his thought process as he processes what he’s going through. It definitely got me thinking about some things near & dear to my “self”, as mentioned above.