Friday, August 24, 2012

Waiting Room

It's 10:42am (that's early for the summer, right?) and I am at the doctor's office. Well, specifically in the waiting room. I forget how terrible these places can be. I forgot to bring a book with me. The magazines are as riveting as "TV Guide Magazine" could possibly be, so naturally I haven't touched them. There is a television on. It's muted, but I wouldn't want to hear what is on it anyway because the only thing on the screen is a loop of either doctor biographies or random health facts. Did you know low folic acid levels can lead to birth defects occurring within the first 28 days of pregnancy? I will keep that in mind for when I am freshly pregnant and come into contact with a vat of folic acid.
I feel so stereotypically teenager because I have to resort to my phone for entertainment. I am the archetype of this generation. Ohgod, I even have my college t-shirt on.

Nearby, there is a table for kids on which lie various coloring books. I am tempted to hang out there and do some coloring, but the plastic red chairs look frighteningly weak and I don't want to end up falling on my ass in front of—well, in front of a senile couple and a toddler, so I guess the audience isn't particularly judgmental. Except for the kid.

Now the guy sitting next to me is playing a video on his phone of some infant doing something adorable. I know this not because I can see the screen but because the volume is so damn loud. The infant's name is Harry, apparently. Thank you for taking all of us on a ride into your personal life, fellow waiting room resident! May you be blessed for your tactless inconsideration of the established silence in here.

I feel like Hell would actually be this particular waiting room, only without—gasp, be still my beating, technologically-savvy and cyber-connected heart—my cell phone.

Oh joy, they finally called me in. Butchered my name as usual. I don't blame them. I should wear a shirt that says "Metin, as in, we met in the park."

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Creative Ruts and Inspiration

I've been in a rut.

Perhaps it is a matter of creative depletion—that is, a thorough exhaustion of creative juices that seemed to be rushing for several weeks, then came to a sudden halt as they were slurped up by a pervasive lack of motivation and inspiration. The problem is that I model much of my productivity, and my idea of my own productivity (oh, my metacognitive contemplations are supernumerary, but that's a different story), around my concrete products of creativity. If I crank out a couple of poems, take a bunch of photos, and work on a website all in a week or two weeks, well, that was a productive fortnight to me. Yet if suddenly the keys don't seem to type out the right words, or everything looks really unremarkable in the viewfinder, I am instantly devoured by a crippling mental (and physical) lethargy that makes me wonder if I have ever amounted to anything, or if I will ever in the future.

To many, such thoughts are, of course, irrational. But I have an obsession with productivity, which is ironic considering my often procrastinatory listlessness and last-minute work ethic. My point is I have been in such a creative rut for the past week. I feel uninspired, unmotivated, and that in turn drives my desire to produce something, anything, even further. The more I do nothing, the more I feel pressured to do something.

Yet such ruts are natural, I suppose. They come and go. They are the byproducts of excessive overworking. That's the problem with "creative" lifestyles. Their quality hinges upon the whims and vagaries of one's own delicate mind. There is a widespread obsession with "inspiration". Where do you get your inspiration from? How were you inspired to write that story? What inspired you to take that photograph?

We rely too heavily on inspiration, and when there is a(n inevitable) cessation of such moods of inspiration—for they are indeed moods, that is, affective changes that then produce an effect on cognition—we immediately feel that we are in a rut. We are uninspired. We are unmotivated.

Writer's block is a good instance of this. If you write,  then you know that cranking out one poem or one story can take 10 minutes, 10 hours, 10 days, a month, two's really quite indefinite. A couple weeks ago, in a surprisingly long-lasting bout of inspiration and/or creative motivation (I think there is a difference), I wrote four rhymed, evenly-metered, 100+-lined poems in less than a week, which was a feat for me, seeing as inspiration tends to run on a short fuse, after which it is nearly impossible to write a poem—or any type of creative writing, for that matter.

But that's the problem. I wait on inspiration to do my writing and many of my other productive tasks and hobbies, and frankly, when you want to actually be a writer or be an artist or whatever, waiting on inspiration for each creative occasion would mean that I could probably write a full novel in the span of 5 lifetimes. And seeing as I presumably have only one lifetime...well, inspiration isn't very reliable.

I think that's the hardest part of creative endeavors, especially with writing—sitting down and forcing yourself to write, even if you think you have "writer's block" or that you have no inspiration. It's too dangerous to rely on something so tenuous, fleeting, and elusive as inspiration. You can't be an artist if inspiration is the only driving force.

It sounds entirely anti-creative and anti-artistic, but it is true. Sure, something inspired the spark of that novel or that poem or that painting or that photograph, but inspiration isn't what actually carried out the piece to completion.

So I am trying to come to terms with this so that a blank page isn't so glaringly and depressingly stark to me, and so that I don't feel bad when each word I write comes out as reluctantly and slowly as the remaining toothpaste in a nearly empty toothpaste tube, and you are forced pinch the sides with vain determination.

I apologize for the chaotic nature of these rough, unadulterated thoughts, but I had to put them down somewhere, and seeing as I hadn't updated this place in a while (ironically because of this said rut), I thought I'd brush away some cobwebs and shelve it here. Uunsurprisingly, of course, in the middle of the night, when questions of personal deficiencies and creative ineptitude seem most palpable and most troubling, but alas, such is the life of a hypersensitive and obsessive thinker.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Strangest Feeling

There is a sentiment, at least for me personally, that far exceeds the weight and power of not only happiness, but even depths of sorrow and melancholy. It is the feeling of uncertainty, a liminal state where one is caught between happiness and sadness, a state of confusion, of suspension in a melange of feelings that feel foreign. It is the feeling where you are not feeling anything in particular, rather gliding along as you catch vague wafts of certain feelings, a distant blur of happiness there, a hard-to-make-out figure of anger there, and so on until you feel that you are not feeling anything specific at all. Or perhaps that you are experiencing so many discordant feelings at once that they have nullified each other.

This is worse than anything because it is ineffable and apparently sourceless. The strength of happiness need not be mentioned, as you know what it is that is making you happy in most cases, and you know the benefit of being happy. Even sorrow, in spite of its acerbic pain and pervasive sense of lethargy, is feeling something. It is not a fun feeling, it is not wanted, but its genesis can in many instances be traced to one origin, or several. Even if it is untraceable or seemingly without source, you still experience a very palpable emotion and you know that you are sad.

But when you are neither happy nor sad, when you are uncomfortably feeling nothing in particular, there is a dread that takes over your thoughts and your very essence. You cannot name any explicit emotion as the cause of the feelings of strangeness any more than you can name the feelings themselves. It is a daze of ambivalence, an unease, as if in anticipation of something good to happen, or something tragic. It is a spring of potential energy waiting to be converted into unleashed action, and until that happens, the spring creaks with expectant but uncertain tension.

This feeling is one of the worst to me, and I would rather have something I can definitively say is causing me sorrow than to be cast into a pit of nothingness and an inexplicable unease. That is perhaps the only word that can describe it: unease. Restless agitation. An ambiguous disturbance to your internal state. Often temporary and fleeting, but when experienced, it feels so eternal and unchanging.