The Muse and the Shovel
You can be strolling on the sidewalk, minding your own business, when it unexpectedly comes up and knocks you upside the head.
Or you can be in sweated pursuit of it for days, grasping at the air for creative encouragement, and come up empty-handed.
So it goes with this pesky conundrum.
There’s a conversation that’s gone on for some time; whether you go out and search for inspiration, or you wait for it to find you. Whether you look up the muse in the phone book, or you wait for her to knock at your door.
As a songwriter, I’ve had both of these experiences. I prefer when lightning strikes and inspiration hits me…it’s almost as if the song writes itself as it plops out of the sky, through my head and heart, and to my pencil (well, to my phone or laptop these days). These songs have a purity, truth, and ease to them. It’s difficult to describe, but something special can be heard. It’s as if I were simply a conduit, and something passed through me that I caught in a jar and transformed into sound waves through vocal cords and guitar strings.
An example of this is my song “Life Goes On” (to hear it, search this title and my name “Matt Bednarsky” wherever you listen to music); this song wove itself together rather effortlessly. It’s simple, yet has something profound and connected to something greater. I don’t say this in a boastful manner; on the contrary, I say it out of reverence! I’m grateful for the blessing that came my way that day.
I wish I could have more writing experiences like that one, but the truth is, those seem to be relatively rare. More often than not, you gotta pick up your shovel - mine happens to have six strings, yours might look a little differently - and dig to find gold (or whatever metal or mineral you unearth).
My original song “Have I Lost the Fire?” is an example of this. I was feeling gray, uninspired, but I still showed up. I grabbed my guitar and wrote into that lack of creative spark; the song is literally about being devoid of inspiration and wondering if it will return. I dove into that feeling of emptiness and found something I’m grateful for.
Inspiration has its seasonality and its whims…but so do we. Sometimes inspiration is flooding our surroundings, but we’re not present to embrace it. Or maybe we’re not ready.
I aim to be receptive to any inspiration that comes my way, be it barreling down or gently whispering. But I also strive to widen and deepen my capacity to search for water when the well seems to have run dry.
I’d say our best is to transmit art in any way we can.
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