Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Balancing Act

To balance. The world requires an involvement in it—an involvement that I sometimes feel I champion more than other writers—but there are moments when the activities and challenges of the world seem to be nothing more that roadblocks to achieving creative ends.

I am a college student, as aforementioned in other posts, and I love it. I love learning, I love the work that is doled out, I love the discussions I have in and outside of the classroom, but (and this but can be a large but at times) I feel like it is a bit like walking backwards. It feels like a large moment of inactivity, for the things discussed in classes are often topics discussed with the same amount of depth amongst my philosophical and author-status friends. Not to mention that those whom I have talked with who have graduated with their bachelor’s degree in recent times do not have a job, and not just don’t have a job in their field of study, but they cannot even find a position working as a cashier at the local Walmart.

All of this emptiness and then college studies also manage to interfere with creative endeavors. These are the arguments against higher education, but there are so many more for it, and, for this purpose, I still support it. Which then allows for the entrance of the question: how does one find a balance between the academic and the creative?

This is a question that I will not purport to have the answer to, but I will refer unabashedly to my own experience (this is a blog after all, isn’t it supposed to be self-indulgent?).

Endless homework stacked on top of actual work with social activities slid into the empty spaces leaves little room for sitting and staring at a blank page for several minutes until an idea finally strikes. This is the real issue that must be conquered. There is always a short ten or twenty minutes that any person can find in a day that are not scheduled, it is learning how to utilize that time. So, I don’t have several minutes to just sit and stare at a blank screen, that must mean I have to approach a piece of paper or a computer screen with the objective to write, and then do so without further hesitation.

There is something organic, I feel, that comes from those words that one forces to spill out onto a page in a moment of immediacy. Sometimes thinking over a sentence or short story concept or scene can actually cripple what might have initially flowed onto the page if the writing had never been inhibited. I think of Franz Kafka and his mode of writing. The Trial was his favorite piece of writing that he created, and he wrote that in one sitting. Not that a piece of writing should be left alone once written—God forbid!—one should always return and edit, but the action should be natural, and that natural action is enabled by a sudden ebullition of words.

So how do I balance my artistic endeavors with the stress of an overly-full academic schedule? I use it as an opportunity to force myself to write in those spare moments, to, in the words of Jack London, go after inspiration with a stick. After all, if working in the in between hours was good enough for Franz Kafka it’s good enough for me.

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