Muse & Resistance

It’s the daring blink of the cursor on an empty white page. The rude interruptions in my train of thought as I try to flesh out an idea for a short film. The weak resolve to get up and just start typing something. The fleeting pleasure of dreaming about my ideas instead of working to make them real. It is Resistance.

I first discovered I was an above-average writer during vacation school. We were preparing for the November O’level exams, and my English teacher was telling us about a writing technique that could help to speed up the pace of our stories. More specifically, she taught us how to use dashes and short sentences to amp up the tempo in any narrative. Then she gave us a task to complete.

On the board, she projected a paragraph from a story about a young Jewish man trying to survive in Nazi Germany. Then she told us to make up the next paragraph using short sentences and dashes to speed up the pace of the story. I thought, “Well, that’s a fun challenge,” and I scribbled down some sentences. A few moments later, I read those sentences out loud to the whole class. The applause was thunderous. It felt nice. For the first time at my high school, I felt seen.

Since then, writing has been an essential part of my life. It is my Muse. I enjoy it. I am good - really, really good at it. The clever use of words makes my heart flutter, and when I write something good and post it here, I get an adrenaline rush. I have at least five book ideas in my brain, and I’ve already started working on the first. In fact, that book is on its tenth chapter. That’s the good news…

The bad news is, I don’t write as often as I want - as often as I need to. And yes, I blame it on Resistance.

Resistance, as I mentioned in the introduction to this Evil Twin series, is the force that lies between the ideas in my brain and the finished product. I call it the evil twin to my Muse because almost as soon as I think I can type out a few thousand words, I get this unbearable urge to do something else.

Resistance is the big dragon that hoards the gold harboured in my ideas. The dragon will do anything it takes to keep me from getting to the gold. Every time I make up my mind to get off my behind and actually start working, Resistance breathes fire down my neck, smouldering my resolve to shameful ashes. Defeated, I seek fulfilment in useless achievements such as a higher rank on Word Domination or a new title in Freecell.

If it doesn’t surface as procrastination, then Resistance shows its ugly, fiery head as indulgence. You see, nothing is more tempting than instant gratification, especially when you know that the thing you most want to be gratified for will probably take years to achieve. It’s this subconscious awareness that Resistance plays on from time to time. I find myself shuffling to the kitchen and opening the fridge for the fifth time. Or reaching for a book because reading a story is easier than writing one, and reading is technically good for me, right?

What sucks about being a creative person is that I rely on it for fulfilment. I need to create, somehow, even if it doesn’t get me anything more than the few words of admiration from those closest to me. Even if my creation is never seen by anyone else besides me, I have to do it. This just makes the disappointment all the more crushing when I realise another day has gone by and I haven’t done anything remotely creative. And every day I let Resistance beat my Muse is another day for it to grow bigger.

Remember in the intro to this series when I said an evil twin is something unpleasant that can’t be separated from something pleasant?

It rings true of Resistance. I can’t separate it from my Muse, from all the things that inspire me to create. And that’s what makes it a necessary part of this process.

The fact that I feel such incredible Resistance whenever I try to work on my craft lets me know that I’m headed in the right direction. In the video about turning pro as an artist, the narrator mentions that Resistance points us to our truest North. It serves as a compass, showing us where we truly need to go. The fact is I wouldn’t be so afraid or reluctant if the ideas I want to work on didn’t scare the daylights out of me.

Knowing this gives me a little more courage to tinker away at my dreams. Somehow, I feel that this will lead somewhere great. Sometimes, when I come face to face with the dragon and it breathes the fire down my neck, my resolve hardens like an egg in boiling water. I get ‘in the zone’, only emerging after a full article has been written or a story idea has been fleshed out. Defeated, the dragon moves aside and lets me have my moment with the gold. It’s these intimate moments of triumph that make Resistance worthwhile and necessary.

I guess the lesson I am still to learn is that Resistance will always contend with my Muse for as long as I have life within me. This dragon will continue to torment me, scarring me, challenging me and (sometimes) defeating me. And I guess that’s something I have to be grateful for because I know that for as long as I am still alive - truly alive - I can always count on Resistance to show me where my true North is.

What’s something in your life that you find yourself putting off because it scares you? Let me know how Resistance manifests in your life and I’ll feature your comments on my Instagram @tapiwanashe36.

8 May 2020