Inspiration, the Oxford English Dictionary tells us, is that divine influence which is thought to visit poets.
Inspiration, as I have found, visits us in the middle of the night and disappears by morning.
This has been my experience. Last night I had a wakeful period where sleep eluded me, but clarity of thought burned bright. I knew precisely what this blog was going to be all about. I even had an apt quotation that would encapsulate my great ideas and each and every telling point was logically thought out and the whole post was strong and clear in my mind.
This morning it was all as clear as mud. During the night I had composed my masterpiece and felt the thoughts and ideas were so strong and clear that they could not be forgotten – they were burned into my brain with words of fire. They were eternal!
But of course they were not. I should have remembered that fire leads to ashes and ashes were all that was left of my midnight composition. Samuel Taylor Coleridge had a similar reality check when composing ‘Kubla Khan’ – someone knocked on his door and by the time he had returned to his classic the rest of the poem had disappeared from his mind as if it had never existed. So I am in good company – but it still is a lesson to be learned.
So what am I to do now?
Well it’s not the first time it has happened to me, and I don’t suppose that you are guiltless either! It is a mystery why our thoughts in the middle of the night are so brilliant only to fade away in the morning light. Our intentions are indeed great in the middle of the night, but there is little left for us to action in the morning.
Perhaps, if I record the miserable effort to create a masterpiece on the blog, it will encourage me to do the simple thing that would really stop all this anguish. Just keep a small book and pen next to the bed and as soon as that world shattering idea occurs to you – record it. Isn’t that what wisdom tells us to do?
Except I tried that once. When I sleepily surfaced from my mental brilliance I realised that the bed was warm and comfortable, the pen and the paper were outside the cocoon of blankets and of course I would remember it in the morning – it was brilliant! It solved all the world’s problems at one go and who could possible forget that fact.
Well I could, and of course did.
But last night was different. I was already up and sitting in my writing chair. I had pen and pencil close to hand – I even made short notes to ensure I would remember the main thrust of my arguments. I retired to bed feeling smug and with the self-satisfied feeling that tomorrow I would startle the world.
Only I couldn’t really understand my notes this morning. Oh, I could read the writing – just. But they just didn’t make sense. Whatever was the guiding principle behind the midnight thoughts had dissipated in the morning light just as emphatically as ever.
So it appears midnight inspiration does demand immediate action. I should have got out of my chair and to the computer and there and then created the masterpiece of wit and wisdom so clear in my mind. As it was I merely put it off because I was (despite all experience to the contrary) sure I would recall it all perfectly in the morning. And beside I was getting sleepy.
There is a lesson for life here I think. If inspiration strikes then we need to take instant action. If opportunity shows itself fleetingly then we must grab it instantly to make something of it because procrastination is putting things off until they never get done.
Inspiration is the divine influence that is thought to visit poets – but if it comes at midnight it will be gone by morning.
Michele @ Trischel