Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Which came first?: a dose of inspiration


Ah yes, it's that age-old question we've all asked/heard/pondered: Which came first, the chicken or the egg? 

It's also the question that, no matter one's stance, cannot honestly be answered. For none of us were around when the chicken came to be. (or the egg, depending on which side of the fence you fall.)

But perhaps if we change a couple of the words, an answer may be within reach. Hmm...how about if we replace "chicken" with "author" and "egg" with "book?" Let's see... 

Which came first, the author or the book?

Ah, now that's something we can work on.

The obvious answer is duh, the author. For a book to be written, a person must be born first, no? See? I told you it was easy!

But let's look a little deeper, shall we?

I'm sure that if asked, you could come up with the book, the one tome that sits high on a perch above all others in your Master List of literary perfection (For me, that's To Kill A Mockingbird, no doubt about it). I'm also sure that if the scribe of said book were asked, they would tell you they have no clue in Hades how they managed to put together the words you cherish so very much. They'd say it's as if an unseen force came over them, pulled that story from their mind and bled it onto the page or screen, and left them to carry the weight of having penned one of the most cherished and beloved works of art ever created (I'm talkin' to you, Harper Lee). There's no way they can explain the magic behind the sentences... And there isn't a chance they'd ever be able to re-create the phenomenon.

Which totally debunks our easy-peasy answer that the author came first, right? I mean, surely a work as magnificent and mind-blowing and heart-warming as (INSERT FAVE NOVEL HERE) comes from some otherworldly dimension, where emphatic prose sits around and waits for its moment to be--and not from the simple mind of a common human? That's just insane.

So there...the book came first!

But wait, that's even more insane, isn't it? I mean, we've already established that words don't just write themselves. So the person--the author--had to come first. Right?

Or maybe, just maybe, the stars align. And the planets align. And whatever omnipotent force you believe in makes all the right in the world align. And suddenly you find yourself sitting in a trance as everything around you grows dark and foreboding, your brain nothing more than a pile of day-old mashed potatoes, your body frozen in place. Days, weeks, months go by in a breath, time meaningless and insignificant. You awaken, tired and drained and feeling as though something...some "unseen force..." has invaded your person.

And your computer. 

For sitting before you now, raw and painful and real, is a work of art that only you could have created. That only you were meant to write. That only you had the power to let be.

So to hell with which came first. You just wrote a book, my friend.

And that is the only answer that matters. 


1 comment:

Paula Millhouse said...

Wow, Jamie, this is an amazing post.

I especially love how you pointed out universal inspiration literally drags the words from us as the scribe.

Pure magic.