ask Knox: inspirations

15Jun09

This was a comment on a previous post which we thought warranted an Ask Knox response:

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So after reading your blog post and visiting the website I was thinking about what you said about hoping the author never winds up reuniting with his muse. Do you think he would stop being able to write if he was happy and got what he longed for? Do you think the only good writing comes from unrequited love? And do you think your writing would be the same if you met the girl you’ve been searching for? Or do you think that no girl fills the bill because you are sabotaging yourself?

Excellent question.  I can’t say for sure whether this guy would still be able to write what he writes if he were suddenly happy.  It’s impossible to say what really drives any individual’s creativity.  I’m reminded of when I briefly taught a high school English class – it seemed most of the American cannon are total fucking bummers, often written by depressed alcoholics and suicide cases.  Could they have done it had they been on antidepressants?  I’m reticent to say conclusively, though my gut tells me no, they couldn’t. It’s not that you have to be a sad person to be a legitimate writer.  What’s important, is that the writer has a large spectrum of feeling that he or she exercises frequently.  That, and, you know, imagination.

Bottom line, though, it comes from a loving place that wishes to share experience with others and gain some kind of grasp on the perplexing human condition.  Obviously this requires that we ask some  difficult questions of ourselves and our surroundings, and sometimes that means wallowing in the depths of painful emotions just to understand them.  And sometimes one gets stuck down there because it feels more real to relate these truths to others, despite looking self destructive and miserable from the outside.  And I believe there’s something noble about that, even if it is masochistic.

Finally, do I think that I’m cursed and all relationships end up going south because of some latent desire to sabotage myself?  Well, I’m not a psychiatrist, but my gut tells me yes.



3 Responses to “ask Knox: inspirations”

  1. 1 sarah

    thanks for your reply, great answer. i appreciate the lack of bs, that sir is why i continue to come back and read :)

  2. Yep. I figured as much. I am scared to death that I too may suffer from this affliction. I hope to god not, but I have a nagging suspicion…

  3. 3 Me

    I write “I Wrote This For You” and I think I agree with what you’ve said.

    In my opinion, empathy and understanding is essential to good writing. That doesn’t mean you have to constantly suffer or be self-destructive, it just means you should have suffered, at some point, in some way, so you can understand suffering, love, loneliness, happiness and every other aspect of the human heart when you see it or when you want to write about it.

    I’ve felt, at one or time or another, everything I’ve written about. I believe we share these emotions, all of us. People like me are just lucky enough or have been writing long enough to be able to eloquently convey them. People recognise themselves in what I write and I recognise myself in the people who read it, hence the “you” and “me” literary device I use. I could be anyone (or someone) and so could you, it doesn’t matter, because you recognise those emotions and yourself in me (and I recognise myself in you). We know each other without ever having met.

    We have a spiritual term for humanitarianism here in South Africa called “Ubuntu”, which loosely translates as “I am because you are” or “I exist because you exist.” I think it’s the clearest summary of what I’m trying to do.

    Thanks for the link and for your blog, I thoroughly enjoy it.

    Keep well,

    Me


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