This post was inspired by a question I once posed on my Facebook, which was “Does anybody else repeatedly pour themselves a big cup of hot tea only to forget about it until it’s ice cold?” Apparently, I’m not alone in this.
It had me thinking about that old expression; you know the one, about cups and their various levels of fullness? Well, if a cup half empty is a bad thing and a cup half full is a good thing, what then of the unfortunate cup of tea that’s been abandoned, remembered only by chance, after it’s no longer a viable drinking option? When it’s gone…cold.
When the writing isn’t coming easy, we can see the cup of inspiration as half empty, and wallow in its shallow half-emptiness. This results in giving up; abandoning that precious work-in-progress (WIP). What’s the use of drinking this? It’s only half full! It will never satisfy me or my WIP. If it won’t quench the thirst, why bother?
But, if the cup of inspiration is half full, why wouldn’t we take advantage? There’s half a cup of awesome, waiting for me to drink it; better not waste it! So, we meander off the Interweb, back to our thirsty WIPs, and we give it, and ourselves, some much-needed nourishment. Soon, we find a little bit of nourishment has gone a long way. This WIP is flourishing with only half a cup of inspiration! This encourages us to fill our cup to its limit once more.
But what if we’ve forgotten about the cup all together? We filled it to the top with inspiration–a hot and steaming cup of goodness. But wait, it’s too hot! Sipping it now will only result in injury, due to hotness. We cannot allow ourselves to be burned by inspiration, can we?
So we let it sit, and we wait for that perfect temperature. Only while waiting, we’ve put that cup in a corner where it’s not readily seen. Mundane details start to suck up our time, and worse, our minds. We become preoccupied with inspiration zappers that take up too much head-space like a Hummer in a downtown parking lot. It could be bills or familial responsibilities. Maybe it’s another project or work. Or it could be, God forbid, a homegrown zapper, from right there in our very own brains. The traitors!
But sooner or later, we stumble across this abandoned cup in a corner, sitting lost and alone, probably frightened. A flood of memories come rushing back, and all we want to do is take that cup and bring its warm deliciousness to our lips. Only something’s wrong. It’s too late. It’s gone…cold. We don’t want to give up yet, having just re-united, so we try to force some semblance of a relationship, to get back what we lost. We sit down and try to put thoughts into words, and words onto paper, but all that comes out are bitter accusations. How could it have gone so wrong? Why did you grow cold? Was it me? Was I not attentive enough? Did I not love you as often as I should have? But…but…you were always on my mind!
It’s not enough to let thoughts and words and dreams and stories go around and around in our heads. Motion-sickness, people. After a while, those ideas will just puke all over themselves, and then what do we do? Sure, let them play on the merry-go-round for a bit, but don’t leave them there! Pluck them off the puke-machine and find them a new place to frolic. We must put those ideas, however undeveloped, onto paper or screen, some place where they will do some good.
Everybody experiences so-called writer’s block, but please, don’t let the WIP’s suffer. They won’t understand.
So, what do you do when your cup seems half-empty or you’re in need of a refill?
Honestly, my cup has been missing for a while and I think I may need to break this routine of spending all my free time at a computer. Now that the weather has improved ever so slightly, (I’m so longing for spring), I was thinking of spending more time outdoors. Not too much time. Sure, it was a whopping 3 degrees Celsius here today, but that’s about 20 degrees from where I need it to be. But that is my goal. I will spend a little more time outdoors, and…I will try and think more positively.
For tonight though, I think I will stare at my first draft for a little while and see what happens. Now, if only I could remember where I put that fresh cup of tea…
Check out this website I stumbled upon after writing this post and looking for an appropriate picture to go with. Pretty neat.
Updated: A daily prompt that came up many moons after posting this: http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/05/05/daily-prompt-the-glass/