Charlotte's Web

Blogging my world since 2006

Turning Up


If you have 60 minutes to spare, here’s an amazing video on creativity and the brain with neurologist Oliver Sachs and artists Chuck Close and Richard Serra:

About halfway in, Chuck Close says something that electrified me. Charlie Rose asks him about inspiration and how that figures in his art and Close says, to great general amusement, “Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just turn up for work.”

This week I turned in draft 13 of Balthasar’s Gift, the draft that, if they are happy about it, my agent and her co-agents are going to start shopping around. Thirteen drafts and three-and-a-half years of writing. If I was still relying on inspiration, I’d have given up years ago.

Close’s off-the-cuff comment also made me realise why it took me so long to commit to being a writer. I was waiting for the inspiration. Now I know it’s mostly about the work.

Author: charlotteotter

Novelist, feminist, crime writer

7 thoughts on “Turning Up

  1. It is indeed mostly about the work – but it helps a lot to have the kind of talent you do, Charlotte!

  2. A timely reminder, Charlotte – I don’t have time, right now, to listen to the interview – I have too much work to do before I go away tomorrow! (I will make time when I get back!)

  3. Ooo, let’s hear it for showing up to work over waiting for inspiration, as I get back to working on only my second draft of the novel…

  4. It’s a lot like meditation that way–showing up is the major part of it. Congratulations on getting the draft in!

  5. PIcasso said something like “Inspiration will come, but it has to catch you working!” Congratulations on all your hard work!

  6. I saw this interview when it first aired and it has been in the dvr queue since then. This episode of Charlie Rose repeated the other day, reminding me that I needed to watch. I don’t think there was only one thing I liked about that interview and why I wanted to re-watch it, so I’m thinking there are probably other gems in this interview. Both Close and Serra — their work and their ideas — fascinate me. And Oliver Saks! Wouldn’t he be an interesting person to sit down with for a long chat? Congrats on all of your hard work and the inspiration behind it. Can’t wait to read here the publication date of your novel!

  7. I read this post a couple of days ago, and since then I’ve tried to source the author of the quote I wanted to post in reply, and failed dismally. So here, paraphrased from memory and without attribution, is something I heard once on this subject which I love. I’m pretty sure it’s a famous author, and if you can put me out of my misery please do!

    “If you want your Muse to inspire you, be where she knows she can find you: at your desk working.”

    Nuff said.

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