Author’s Note: One of our stated goals here at TTAF is to foster community. One very simple way that we imagined that would happen would be through the dialogue resulting from comments on our posts. We created this weekly post with that very end in mind. Some of our “Comment on This” posts have generated exactly the kind of dialogue I’ve mentioned, and some have not. That is to be expected, and we understand that not every reader will leave a comment on every post. Just know that we welcome your responses, even (especially, if the truth be known) if they differ from ours. For that reason, I am going to offer an initial “comment” to this week’s quote as an invitation to dive right in. As always, thanks for reading.
Comment on This:
“There are, it seems, two muses: the Muse of Inspiration, who gives us inarticulate visions and desires, and the Muse of Realization, who returns again and again to say “It is yet more difficult than you thought.” This is the muse of form. It may be then that form serves us best when it works as an obstruction, to baffle us and deflect our intended course. It may be that when we no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work and when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey. The mind that is not baffled is not employed. The impeded stream is the one that sings.”
– Wendell Berry
I don’t know that I’ve ever encountered a sentiment that rings truer to my experience with the creative process. The transition from the initial moment of inspiration into the difficult work of giving shape to that inspiration is so often when creative momentum is lost. The realization that “It is yet more difficult than [I] thought” is a harsh one, and can easily derail me. The last half of the quote offers the perfect inspiration in the face of this difficulty. How comforting to think that those moments of darkness where we feel incompetent and inadequate are a sign that we are wrestling with something that has the power to change us for the better and give us the push we need. Bafflement, then, is not a sign of weakness, but of progress. Yes. Thanks, Wendell.