Frequently I will read a book and I find it inspiring in an “I can do that” kind of way. I recently read a collection of short stories, and it motivated me, not just because the stories were great, but also because they weren’t necessarily logically resolved in the end. I have a tendency to beat myself up if I can’t come up with a clever ending, or get caught up in the details of how something would work in real life. These stories were inspiring to me in the “I can do that” kind of way. Or I will visit a museum and think “Brilliant! I could totally play with that idea.” I had this experience all over the Baltimore American Visionary Art Musueum (http://www.avam.org/index.html – I’m not sure about this website, but if you’re ever in Baltimore, I highly recommend you go…)
Other times I will read something and it will be so great, so amazing, so above and beyond anything I’m capable of creating that I just have to throw up my hands and say, “There’s no hope for me.” I recently had this experience with Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones. True confession, although I’m afraid it makes me sound a bit too much like a moody artist: I was depressed for a few days after finishing The Lovely Bones because it was so beautifully written. “There’s no hope for me. Even if I did nothing but write all day every day, if I did nothing but slavishly develop my craft, I will never be able to create anything that good.” This will last for a day or two before I slap myself in the face and tell myself to get back to work.
I have this experience less often with art, I suppose since I’m not really an “artist” in the museum-sense, but it does happen every now and then. I’ll see a piece of art that is so beautiful, there’s no room left for any “I can do that” inspiration. Tonight I came across this:
I don’t do paper cutting; I don’t do anything even remotely like this. But I’m blown away by the level of detail, the level of dedication this art must take. I’m going to try to not be depressed, but someone slap me and tell me to get back to work if I don’t snap out of it in a day or two.