Billy brushed his teeth on Tralfamadore, put in his partial denture, and went into his kitchen. His bottled-gas range and his refrigerator and his dishwasher were mint green, too. There was a picture painted on the door of the refrigerator. The refrigerator had come that way. It was a picture of a Gay Nineties couple on a bicycle built for two.
Billy looked at the picture now, tried to think something about the couple. Nothing came to him. There didn't seem to be anything to think about those two people.
I understand Billy's predicament today. He can't conjure up any thoughts regarding the couple on the bicycle built for two. I'm not really inspired to write anything about this particular passage from Slaughterhouse. Usually, when I type a section from the book, some thought immediately pops into my head. Free association. Today, nothing's popping.
Inspiration is a strange thing. I would say that I've read a lot of writing that I would call inspired. I've seen a lot of performances--on stage and screen--that I would categorize as inspired, as well. The same is true for most of the arts. Music. Painting. Sketching. Photography. All inspired. (Not mimes. Never mimes.)
However, as a working poet and writer, I will say that waiting until I feel inspired to write wouldn't really work. I would never sit down to write anything. Instead, I would be constantly out in search of inspiration. Sunrises or sunsets or poems or chocolate cake or Janis Joplin playing on the radio. Inspiration is like lightning. It doesn't strike the same place twice.
No, tonight, I'm going to sit down with my journal and force myself to work on a couple of writing projects I have going. There will be no Muse dictating in my ear. I will simply write and write and write until I come up with something that's not embarrassing. That pretty much describes my process. As Natalie Goldberg advises, I give myself permission to write shit, in hopes that something beautiful might flower out of it.
Now I won't completely discount the possibility of being inspired tonight. It might happen. However, I'm not going to wait for it. I have work to get done. That's what writers do. They work, and that work is hard. But it's also the best thing in the world when I come up with one perfect word, one great image, one elegant sentence. That's what it's all about. String letters together, hoping for a miracle.
Saint Marty is thankful for the ability to write this evening.