I remember the stiff, crisp air in my eighth grade English classroom as I gazed longingly at the wall as if it held some kind of miraculous inspiration for my writing assignment.
But all I ever found were cheesy motivational posters, littered with panda bears and baby kittens. I guess animals in cute poses are supposed to make us feel more successful, more accomplished in life.
But as I stared into Sad Panda’s eyes all I could think about was how uninspired I was and how I might not even make it through writing time without falling asleep.
I still feel like that now, sometimes, like I’m just staring at the wall waiting for it to talk back to me, like it’s going to extend a long, shadowy arm and start clucking away at my keyboard. Wouldn’t that would be a sight?
Poor muse of mine, I set such an expectation for it, always begging it to dance and perform on a stage with a spotlight beaming bright.
But inspiration doesn’t work that way, at least not for me. It’s almost like a muscle you have to flex, and keep flexing until you get the results you want. (Maybe I just need a picture of Arnold Schwarzenegger in my writing corner.)
And sometimes I even find myself coming up with my own mantras or phrases that I play on repeat — mental tapes as therapists call them. And they sound as hokey to me as Sad Panda’s caption.
But when it comes down to crunch time, to that pivotal moment when I have to choose between giving up or persevering, I find that those little BS lines can sway me, just a tad, until I topple over on the side of “just keep going. Just keep trying.”
And then I sit back down in my chair and start typing, letter by letter, word by word until I end up with a novel.