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  • February 26, 2013

    Dear Shane,

    There is a block, a solid line. Let’s say it’s geographical – like the line that divides one state from another. (Admit it: in your younger days, or drunken days, or clearly-stoned ones, you’ve looked for that line, something drawn on the ground, some thick white line that corresponds to what you’ve seen on the map. Well, in this hypothetical case, you’ve found it. Congratulations!) And let’s say, in Michael Jackson’s words, it’s too high to get over or too low to go under. And there it is in front of you. And there's no getting around it. You are stuck.

    Ocean metaphors work, too. So, say you’re at sea. Say there’s no wind. You’re on a sailboat or this metaphor won’t work. The sea is still, still as the one the ancient mariner finds himself on before he sees Death playing dice. So there you are again, stuck.

    Okay, now what? Maybe another metaphor? Maybe astronauts and dinosaurs? What, and make this nonsense longer?! I think not, my attention is already starting to wane.

    Well, in the easy world, in the world of easy-born geniuses, the overflowingly gifted, and the naturally talented, you’d be one of them and inspiration would float you gracefully over the wall or would fill the sails of your sailboat and it would be smooth sailing. Ha! But at this moment inspiration is nowhere to be found. The cock is not turning and your thumb remains wet. You are not feeling to be an easy-born genius today.

    That the map’s border is imaginary or the sailboat metaphoric is beside the point.

    Well, there’s only one thing to do in these cases and it’s not a pretty word: work. Find some way to dig under or through. Maybe start rowing or even swimming. Exert. It’s okay. Light the line between idea and reality with the sparks and sweat of your effort.

    If you’ve skipped to this part without reading the rest, well done! Because here is the meat of it: We have been led to believe so many things; most of them are not true. When it comes to creating a work of art, the most foolish belief is that there is something called a ‘true artist’ and then there is you. In truth, sometimes your sails are full of wind and things come easily, magically, and sometimes the best you can do is dog-paddle. The only difference between you and the illusory ‘true artists’ is that one of you thinks you can win at dice with Death while the other affixes their headband and gets to work.

    After all, Rome wasn’t torn down in a day.

    Didactically yours,

    Highcourt S. Crow, Ph.D.
    Professor, Creative Writing & Most Other Metaphysical Subjects
    San Francisco, CA
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