Last week my brilliant artist friend bemoaned the drudgery of the work to me, the unpleasant realization (that one realizes over and over again) that being an artist, or doing art — be it visual (in the case of my friend) or with words or with a genre defying mix of all and then some — is often decidedly tedious, mundane, and downright dull. This runs counter to the popular archetype of the artist as somehow above it all, unconcerned with the quotidian, sitting astride some glowing unicorn of creativity and flying through the sky, birthing great art, solitary golden horn ablaze and lighting up the stars. More often, I think it is less like a magical ride and birth and more like a series of lonely constipated visits to the toilet.
- (image from valdosta.edu)
A writer friend recently shared with me that in a fit of despair she called a psychic to the stars (Angelina and Brad are allegedly among this psychic’s clients). She has been steadily toiling on her novel for over a decade; working on it through an intense day job and the arrival of her son; and she is currently chasing the ever-elusive right ending. Her novel is based on a famous historical character and so she asked this psychic if she could communicate with said character, and perhaps find out just how she should end her novel. I am not sure she got her answer (or maybe a channel was opened and the next time she sits down at her desk, the unfinished novel before her, she will hear a whisper in her ear from the great beyond from her character) but I was struck by how much this service could be useful for writers.
I thought of Dionne Warwick’s Psychic Friends’ Networks, whose infomercial I watched endlessly in the middle of the night to procrastinate writing papers in college (this was the dark primitive era I call B.I., Before Internets, also known as BFB — do I really have to spell that one out for you?) I remember that I was aghast and amused at the story of the poor woman stalked and abused by her ex boyfriend who depended upon her psychic friend of the Network to “stay one step ahead” of her abuser. What an exhausting and terrifying way to live! But now I am thinking of how this might serve writers. Who doesn’t want to stay “one step ahead” of writer’s block or “one step ahead” of the next chapter and plot twist, or even “one step ahead” of a character’s deepest motivation? Surely there must be a way for a psychic out there to hone his or her powers and tap into the collective unconscious for desperate writers: that place where perhaps imagined and historical characters roam about, some half formed, others fully fleshed, trying out lines and outfits, reviewing childhood traumas that inform their current psyche and questionable romantic choices; a place where storylines are mapped out on a gigantic mystical chalkboard; and les bons mots float about on clouds.
But since no such Network exists, and I have not even heard from Miss Cleo lately, I suppose I need to settle for the advice of the ordinary mortal fellow writer. Take a look at this webpage from Poets and Writers which someone in my writing group told me about it. Writers Recommend is not so mystical but full of some good inspiring ideas nonetheless for those slow torturous constipated days when you are straining and counting the cold tiles around your feet.
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