Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Blood, Sweat and Peers

I believe that it was Thomas Edison who once said that genius was one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.

I have never made claims of genius about myself, but I think there’s a deeper point buried away in there, and I agree with it to an extent.

Let’s get this perspiration thing out of the way first. Yes, you will probably never achieve anything of note without putting in the hours, paying your dues, honing your craft, flexing certain creative muscles, whatever you want to call it. On the other hand, there are people in the world that may hammer away at something hour after hour, day after day, and all they will end up being is a solid craftsman. There may be no flair, nothing outstanding, nothing exceptional about their work, but they will be dependable and reliable and solid. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

However, it does mean that, at some point, inspiration or talent or the Muse or, yes, a touch of “genius” has to play a part. And probably in a quantity of slightly over and above 1%.

I think I’ve made it abundantly clear in this blog that my current job is by far one of the least mentally and physically taxing jobs I’ve ever had. And I think I’ve also made it pretty clear that I have yet to find any allies in this intellectually barren environment.

And I think that’s part of my problem. Because I really, really like to surround myself with intelligent, witty and original thinkers. I like to think that virtually all my friends fall into this category, because I crave constant stimulation, a constant flow of challenging ideas and, you knew it was coming, constant inspiration. The double whammy of this new job wedged in the Cornhole of Nowhere, and the domestic demands of rearing young Buttercup (who is herself something of an inspiration, and already showing signs of being a comedy genius, but we haven’t quite sussed out the intricacies of two-way conversation just yet), have left me isolated from the nourishing comforts of friendship and the stimulating banter that goes hand-in-hand with that.

I’ve struggled with stuff for weeks now. Last week, I had a couple of cracking ideas, one for a comic book and one for a movie script, and I fleshed those out for a couple of hours, and that felt pretty damn good. They were full of striking, dark, twisted images, and absolutely no solid story or plot yet. But it’s a start, I suppose.

I’ve pretty much stalled completely with film journalism recently. I just can’t get it to work at the moment, but I will persevere. I’ve got a couple of long overdue pieces pending, so I hope I snap out of that particular blockage soon.

I tooled around with a couple of self-imposed writing exercises this morning, one that involved writing purely in sound effects, and the other writing using only words that start with the next letter in the alphabet (Always Be Closing!), but neither worked.

At the same time, maybe I’m being a bit too ambitious at the moment. After all, I do have a new job, a newborn baby, and a wife who deserves an attentive husband. And all those parts of my life are tiring. Maybe writing isn’t meant to be floating at the periphery of my mind all the time right now.

Anyway, I’m clearly rambling now, and writing this was primarily a way for me to organise some stray ideas. Unfortunately, if you’ve read through this far, you are clearly a very patient reader who has been subjected to my disjointed thoughts. Sorry about that.

The good news is that I have a rare night out on Baker Street this Thursday coming, where I will be pitted against the titanic, boundless imagination of one of my Brothers. We will spitball ideas ranging from the stupid to the innovative and back again, and we will talk much crap, and we will laugh and smile, and we will smite our enemies with the razors of our wit, and the table will be slick with lime juice and beer, broken glass and blood and barbecue sauce. No one will be safe. Not even us. It will be the stuff of legend. I can’t wait.

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