Inspiration Is For Amateurs (Mustang Sally Syndrome)

“Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work. Every great idea I’ve ever had grew out of work itself. Sign onto a process and see where it takes you. You don’t have to invent the wheel every day. Today you’ll do what you did yesterday. Tomorrow you’ll do what you did today. Eventually you will get somewhere.”

- Chuck Close

I’ve been working on a novel. You go through periods of being uninspired. It’s normal. But you can’t stop working or you’ll never get the thing done and what’s the point of starting if you’re not going to finish? Finishing things over and over again is the mark of a pro. And it is hard. You have to plug away whether you feel like it or not and a lot of people don’t want to hear that- I’ve certainly been one of them!

So it’s 800 words a day. Or doing enough new work for solo show (no old stuff- only amateurs think their old stuff is interesting). Or recording a new CD that doesn’t sound like a retread of the last one. Pros are interested in the present when they create, the work they are immersed in now. Think about open jams or open poetry readings. Working musicians and published poets don’t do these things. Typically, an open reading ‘poet’ always reads the same stuff they’ve been reading for years. I’ve seen it over and over. Same with jammers, the same tired versions of the same songs (Mustang Sally Syndrome).

Commander Cody played a free show at the Rochester Public Market last week. He had a hit album in the early seventies. My friends and I loved it and played it until we knew every word. Over the years I’ve seen his band several times and they always play that album. After 40 years I could not listen to more than few minutes of it. It was tired and as an ex-musician who always played original music I found it extremely depressing. 40 years of playing the same set…like being trapped in purgatory.

Chuck Close is an extremely successful painter with an incredible body of work. Many large scale paintings done in spite of being confined to a wheelchair. He has a very recognizable style including a period where he did portraits composed of mosaic squares that, seen at a distance, form the face. A few months ago a local artist had a show at The Little Cafe of images done with the same technique. Upon close inspection it turned out they were prints done with a Photoshop filter that duplicated the Chuck Close style. Take  any photo into the software, click a few times and you are an artist.

Except that you are not.

You didn’t do the work.

Powered by WordPress. Designed by Woo Themes