It’s been a while since I wrote a blog post that wasn’t poetry. I decided that today—a beautiful summer Saturday—would be a good time to switch things up. I thought about writing something concerning the effect of ISIS on our foreign policy or maybe the future possibility of virtual and/or robotic prostitution, but I just wasn’t feeling it.
It’s not that the ink well is dry. It’s the exact opposite. Imagination is a transcendent, ever-expanding canvas. And for that reason, it’s uncharted, un-mappable, inexpressible. Without inspiration to pull me in a singularly specific direction, I’m too overwhelmed to move forward. I don’t want to call it Writer’s Block—because it hasn’t really stopped me from writing. In fact, the struggle became the focus of this blog post.
I came up with the title before I began typing: “Never-Ending Clay.” Consider what it would take to sculpt an object out of never-ending clay. You could never get your hands around the whole medium. You’d first have to cut out a piece before you could shape it into anything meaningful.
I think about this stuff a lot when I’m fortunate enough to have time as a luxury. I say to myself, “Boy, Dan, you’ve got time to write about anything your heart desires. What will it be?” And when I don’t come up with an immediate answer, I go, “Now come on. You’ve the unlimited creative freedom that you want. Now use it!” It reminds me of something I saw on television: Apparently, it’s easier and more satisfying to order ice cream from a store that has only three flavors (vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry) versus a parlor with a plethora of options (say, rocky road, cheesecake, cookie dough, caramel, chocolate mint, et cetera). I suppose writing (or making any art) is the same.
It seems weird, but as a wordsmith craftsman who manifests ideas, I need to limit myself. I need to put my mind in a cage so that it can steep and feel claustrophobic and oppressed until it summons the willpower to break the bars. I incarcerate my creativity so that it may be liberated—out from a grounded orientation. Flying high in the sky is only exciting and useful when you first rise from the dirt. An artist must cut away a section of clay before any work can begin.
I guess the most important question to ask yourself is, “What slice of infinity do you want to digest today?” The best part of imagination: it doesn’t go away, no matter how much you take from it. It’s the only true case of having your cake and eating it at the same time.