04 April 2010

Day 8: Smoke and Mirrors

Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman.  ISBN: 9780380789023.

The Goldfish Pool and Other Stories.  Pages 74-110.

I wasn't so pleased with the plot of this story, but it followed Gaiman as writer dealing with Hollywood, which I'm sure is completely different than dealing with book publishers.  The one thing I did get from this short story was a fantastic quote about being a writer and how obnoxious it must be.

"The irritating question they ask us - us being writers - is, 'Where do you get your ideas?'

"And to answer is: Confluence.  Things come together.  The right ingredients and suddenly: Abracadabra!"

This makes so much sense to me, not just creatively but in every day life, trying to get by and get things completed.  There are times when I am moved to clean the kitchen or reorganize the closets.  More recently all that energy has been going to writing cover letters, being unemployed and all.  Writing cover letters is possibly the most tortuous part of unemployment.  Forget the shame, forget not having money to eat out or pay my car insurance: sitting in front of the computer every morning and forcing myself to write a page and a half about myself and my experiences to match a job description, only to wake up and do it again the next day, is a worse punishment than ever bestowed by those bastards on Mount Olympus.  Hm, I bet that would be an interesting rewrite of the Greek myths actually.  Feel free to steal the idea, I'm not going to write it.

I've actually left cover letters dead in the water because I couldn't even force myself to write them.  Having 8+ months of rejection under my belt has not helped matters at all in this respect.  Maybe if there was some promise of receiving even an interview, it would make it worth while to slog through those cover letters.  Instead I sit in my pajamas and stare at the cat, hating my miserable life.

However, on the rare occasion I get this sudden burst of energy and I am all about writing those cover letters.  When I get like that I can churn out a good cover letter in about an hour and nothing feels better.  I go out, and I take a nice long walk to the library.  At the very least I feel like I've done something and don't feel guilty watching Netflix movies.  Getting out from underneath that weight of guilt, even momentarily, is blissful.  It's unfortunate that it doesn't come more often.  But yes, I agree with Gaiman, that feeling of "confluence" can make all the difference in your life whether you're creating art, writing a paper, or a daily task that you don't particularly care for.  Sometimes it pays off to go ahead and slog through the pain, but other times you just have to wait for that inspiration.

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