I don’t believe in magic. I don’t believe in a mysterious force that guides me, but judging from my recent experiences, I would be foolish not to believe in inspiration.
For the past two weeks, my husband and I have been writing. Day and night. He is finishing the first draft of a new screenplay and I am working on the first chapters of what might become my debut novel in English.
Of course, we take breaks from our desks. We sleep and make coffee; we go out and inhale a day’s worth of fresh air. We don’t, however, take breaks from our minds, or from our subconscious, or from whatever it is that tunes us in to the whispering and sometimes howling voice. What we are experiencing is a writing frenzy: we are eating and dreaming and living our tales.
During my yoga sessions in the early morning, I keep my notebook on the mat. Often an idea pops up while my knees are hugging my cheeks. At breakfast, I read: The Great Gatsby, The Elements of Style. I read, and I drift off; it is difficult to concentrate while my head continues to absorb messages from undefined sources. Over lunch, my husband and I barely talk. We discuss the weather, or the food we should purchase, but we don’t get on a subject that might distract us.
The news? Television? Our social life? We are disconnected and rely on others to reestablish the bonds when important matters need to reach us. Occasionally, I take an hour out of my day to phone or respond to an email. Other obligations I note on a list, so I can ban them out of my mind. Without their cluttering noise, I hear much better.
Behind my desk, I create and transcribe, two different writing activities. When I create, I follow a stream I do not know, and trust it will take me to where I need to be; the result is often surprising. When I transcribe, I jot down ideas that came earlier, and just feed them to the manuscript. It’s less thrilling work, but it’s equally important: we need words to communicate ideas, and if I don’t type them, they will never exist in the minds of others.
Sometimes the ideas appear at inconvenient moments. I am able to shut them out for a while, but I won’t: a writing frenzy only happens when I surrender. The potential of loosing an idea, is frightening though. When I’m in the park or at the market, and a flash of ideas makes my heart speed up, I rush back to my desk and turn myself into a typist as soon as possible. On the way, I repeat the ideas in my head, over and over again, avoiding encounters with shopkeepers or neighbors, however friendly they may be, as they can only distract me. Sometimes I memorize entire paragraphs this way, or sketch out pages of dialogue.
And that’s all there is to it; I dream and think, I formulate and rearrange, I brood and wait: I write. Until the fatigue sets in and cuts me off. Meanwhile, my husband goes through the motions of a similar process. Fortunately, our working schedules are almost identical – or perhaps we are just being practical. Preparing and eating our dinner is a jovial happening, as we are both overflowing from excitement, and the feeling of having achieved something. After wine and food the ambiance changes; we are simply drained.
Right before going to bed, we turn on an episode of Dr. House, and we do so with religious loyalty. We sleep well after watching him solve his medical mysteries and fuck up his private life, and we wake up with well-attuned heads. Somehow, Dr. House has become part of our ritual and we don’t want to jinx our inspiration by watching a film.
Sometimes I fear the frenzy will soon be over and my mind will focus on the outside world again; I have a quick look at the newspapers and check the social networks. Or I draw up a little post like this one. An hour later, I feel that surge again, that physical sensation of the blood rushing through my veins. No, I still don’t believe in magic, but I’m going in for another meal: the Muse is calling me to dinner.