PERHAPS it is not new for the writer to hear of the word “inspiration,” and for the young wannabe writers such as I, the inspiration is what fuelled and drove our writing no matter when, no matter where.

If it arrived, we must immediately grab it or else, the opportunity to use it will be lost. It was from this deep wellspring of both knowledge and wisdom that writers drew their insights from. Was it the ancient Greeks who first believed in inspiration? Their artists believed in Daemons—positive, spirit-like beings who rested upon mortals, delivering to them things from the divine, for the Greeks did not really acknowledge man as a possible source of creativity. This might seem silly, but the Greeks liked it because it put less pressure on the artist; if he happened to produce art that was below the standard of taste, the fault would not be on the artist and they would simply think that his Daemon gave him a bad idea. Nowadays, for the more poetic, the Daemon finds its new identity in the form of the muse, or the source of artistic creativity.

Though at first the writer might employ the quaint idea of a muse hovering upon them while instilling divine creativity like some immaculate dove that rests upon the meek, it is a fact that throughout his writing career, a writer will always grapple with his ego.

Constant praise and acknowledgement can make even the most humble of saints into humble-braggarts, praise to a writer, as I like to put it, is like chicharon to the eater, “nakatataba ng puso pero nakamamatay.” (Hearty, but clogs the artery). The ego has been seen, more often than not, as a bad thing because it instills in the writer the idea that all he writes emanates from his own capacity to think–that his success is the product of his skill and talent alone.

A mercury-free Philippines

How many times have we read of a writer so consummed by the pressure or ego the success of their work cost them? Perhaps this is not just because of the ego but the dreary depression a writer goes through once they’ve felt as if they have nothing more to write or to contribute? That they themselves feel like empty wells, drained of all their insight and wisdom. An example could be Jose Garcia-Villa, whose writing prowess and avant-garde treatment of literary forms put him on the country’s literary map. It was perhaps this popularity that caused his ruin, or as National Artist for Literature F. Sionil Jose puts it, “He was so full of himself that the writer died sooner than the man.” Admittedly, though the structure and style of his later works really are unique (his poem “The Emperor’s New Sonnet” sports nothing but blank space as a quaint reference to the children’s story), they are not as savory to me.

Elizabeth Gilbert, authour of the New York Times best selling memoir, “Eat, Pray, Love” supports the idea of the writer relying on the idea of a Daemon and with good reason too. In one of her TED talks, she noted how many writers and artists slowly spiralled into depression and suicide just because they felt like they could not keep up with the glory their previous work has won them.

Rational humanism began attributing creativity and geniusness on the human self, which, to her, was tantamount to forcing someone to “swallow the sun.” It was simply too much!

Still ROTC, whether you like it or not?

To acknowledge a Daemon or even the divine as one’s source of inspiration did not really mean a writer was just an empty vessel waiting to be filled, better yet, it meant that the writer is an instrument made for divine purposes.

It is a practice of humility as well, constantly working for his own recognition can drain any writer and damage his confidence, but attributing at least some of his work to an outside source of inspiration could help deepen his foothold on the earth.

After all, the bones of any writer, no matter how great, eventually turn into dust. And here I am wondering, how will I go to sleep now?


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.