Friday Fable: The Writer and the Inspiring World
Posted on March 15, 2013
by Catherine Austen
You may know the old fable, The Widow and the Hen:
Once there was a widow who found a hen wandering the yard. The widow gave the hen a handful of barley and, lo, it laid an egg. The next day, the widow tossed the hen another handful of barley, and she was blessed with another egg.
The widow soon had big dreams of omelettes and quiches, and she was unhappy with one measly egg a day. “If I give the hen twice as much barley,” she thought, “she should give me twice as many eggs.” Wanting a three-egg omelette and a batch of cookies, the woman gave the hen four handfuls of barley every day for a week.
But alas, the hen was not in line with the widow’s dreams and when the woman stuffed the poor bird with barley, the hen became so bloated and tired that she left off laying altogether.
And the moral is: Hens don’t care about mathematics.
That is a good old tale. But if Aesop were a modern slave to the written word, he might have called his fable, The Writer and the Inspiring World:
Once there was a writer who found her work-in-progress stalled at a scene where the hero was in deep trouble and she had no idea how to get him out of it. The writer listened to some music and went for a walk in the woods and, lo, she was inspired to write the scene. The next day, the writer chatted with a friend and read the paper, and she was blessed with another great idea for the next scene.
The writer soon had big dreams of writing dozens of novels after this one, and she was unhappy with one measly scene a day. “If I take in twice as much inspiration,” she thought, “my subconscious mind will work out twice as many scenes.” Planning on writing 5,000 words on the novel plus a short story and some revisions to a chapter book the next day, the writer went to a movie, took a tap dancing lesson, wandered around the art gallery, read a book of poetry, and snapped a few dozen pictures of the new snowfall before she sat down to work for the one hour left before bedtime.
Alas, the writer’s brain – and even her typing speed – was not in line with her dreams and she was exhausted from all the other stuff she’d thought about all day long and had no mental energy left for her poor hero and his troubles, so she got no writing done at all.
And the moral is: Doubling the inspiration does not halve the perspiration.
We had our March Break last week here in Quebec, and I was truly inspired by all my putzing around and playing and visiting – it was just the break I needed. But alas I was unable to stop putzing around and get back to work this week, so I spent my days proving the truth of this sad but true fable. It seems we live in a finite sort of universe and you can only do so much in a day. Bummer.
Next week it’s back to work. For sure. There is no prescription for creativity like the old ass-to-chair technique.
Deadlines work marvels too. Thanks for this.
Yes. Deadlines, money, the threat of public shame – these can all help keep one’s butt in the chair when inner motivation lags. Thanks for stopping by.
Oh so true.
Yes, I have proven it a few too many times.