Forgive me for the following post, which is not something I would normally write, but something I feel needs to be put on virtual paper.
The urge to write. Some of us have it; some of us don’t. But what is it, and what inspires it?
Ten minutes ago I was watching a film. Then I stopped it for a moment and read this post by Stevee at Cinematic Paradox. I enjoyed reading it, and pondered it for a few moments afterwards. Then I decided to leave my movie on pause and write a blog post, because lately I just haven’t been blogging often enough. The simple reason for why this is is that I’ve lost the inspiration that once flowed through me rapidly and without end. I’m not sure exactly when I lost it, but it periodically dips its head in and out of view; some days I feel like I could write and write incessantly, whereas on other days I can barely squeeze out a word.
As I write this, I am listening to the piece of music I usually listen to while writing. It is Fur Alina, by Arvo Part. I would like you to listen to it as you read. Perhaps it will put you in my frame of mind. It is a sparse and minimalist piece, but it inspires within me an energy that is self-renewing and plentiful. It has the power of a truly great film, to make me think and then wonder what I’m thinking about and why it’s so damn fascinating.
What is the urge to write? Where do we get inspiration from? My inspiration comes from the very thing I blog about: film. If I don’t watch a film, I can’t blog. My writing style will often reflect the last film I watched. In this case, the last film I’ve seen is Werner Herzog’s 1974 documentary The Great Ecstasy of Woodcarver Steiner. This is a film about a legendary ski-jumper that breaks world records despite being inches away from death in his stunts. It has a raw power to it, and contains several slow-motion shots that can only be described as hauntingly poetic. I’m not going to review the film, but suffice it to say it has affected me this evening and the words I write come fresh from the images still in my mind.
I want to write. I want to, and yet some days I can’t. I have a series of regular features here at Southern Vision, such as the All-Time Favourites and Unforgettable Scenes series’. Those two particularly I love writing, but seem to be getting less and less attention. Whenever I write about a recent film my site traffic almost doubles, but I don’t enjoy writing about recent films as much as I do about older films or more obscure films that sadly don’t get read or paid much attention to. You could easily argue that the point of blogging is not to gain readers but to write what you want to write. True enough, but I want my posts, which often highlight obscure movies, to be read so that these films can be discovered and injected into the minds of people who might not have previously given them any thought. I write to provoke, not to simply put words on a page.
Though putting words on a page in itself can be enough. I remember fondly the first time I saw my favourite film of all time back in December, and being so dazed and thoughtless that I just wrote and wrote about my immediate reaction to the film, not really structuring my review properly. It was just something I had to write. Those posts, in my mind, are my favourites. Rather than the ones I’ve slaved over for hours and hours, I much prefer the ones written hastily, with not much worry for grammar or proper structure; simply a passion for writing so deep I could not stop letting the words flow from me and would not be distracted by anything outside the page. The inner demand to write – that is, writing being something you both need and want to get out at the same time – is often more feverish and wonderful than writing provoked by simply noticing you’re due to post something.
I don’t often get this simultaneous need and want to post, but when I do, it’s incredible. It’s like a verbal orgasm of extreme life exploding from my head and into visible language. It’s quite exhilarating. It only happens with film-related topics I’m extremely passionate about, but it is the biggest reason I blog, and if you’re a blogger who’s lucky enough to have experienced this tidal wave of emotion, you may also recognize it as a significant factor in your content output. The post I’m writing now is one of these posts. If I’m repeating myself or touching on subjects I don’t seem quite sure of, then I don’t care. These words are ones I just have to get out. I wouldn’t say I’ve been philosophically soul searching on “the nature of blogging,” but my reasoning behind my writing is something I’ve recently found infinitely more fascinating than my writing itself.
I am not going to stop blogging at this stage. There is too much pleasure and wondrous amazement in it. Recently being nominated for the Lammy Brainiac Award was another incentive; for me, a nomination is more significant than a win, because a nomination means you’ve been chosen out of thousands. A win means you’ve only been chosen out of a handful. Think about that.
Reasons to write of course extend far beyond receiving acclaim by your peers. It is a lovely feeling to be acknowledged for passionate writing, but on my list of reasons I keep writing, it is not among the top three things. An award, whether physical or not, is something I’d be grateful for, and means a hell of a lot, but it’s nowhere near as wonderful as hearing someone say something like: “I’ve just discovered your site and I’m impressed. I really like your writing and I’ll be coming back.” Comments like that are the best I’ve ever read, and there’s nothing in the blogging world that could ever beat someone saying something as simple as “You are a good blogger,” or “Great article.” Oftentimes the only thing I can reply to that is “Thanks!” but I often feel like crying when I read things like that. They express so much by saying so little, and even if they’re left by someone who really just wants to comment even though they know nothing about the post, they’re the highest praise I can ever hope to receive.
I’d like to end this post with an anecdote about the first time I saw a movie called Werckmeister Harmonies. When this 139-minute movie finished, I sat in my seat weeping, then shortly thereafter got in my car, drove out to the beach and sat there alone for about 40 minutes watching the distant tide and thinking. My train of thought during those forty minutes is something I remember clearly, but to describe it as it was would be an exercise in futility. To sum it all up, I basically thought something along the lines of “Fuck, I love film.”
Indeed. When I have lost faith, courage, perseverance or inspiration in anything in this world, I can always, always turn to film. It is the only thing I think there is in the world that I feel truly comfortable with every minute of every day, even if I’m only thinking about it. If I ever lose faith in film, I watch a movie like Werckmeister Harmonies, I let the tears start flowing, I let the words start typing, and I sink into something deep and beyond normal feeling and human comprehension.