Inspiration starvation. Round two.

Sometimes I’m not even aware of how uninspired I’ve become.

And then something (or someone) comes along and reinvigorates me, the awareness comes back, and I remember how good ideas taste, how satisfied creativity makes me feel, and I want more. And more. Only then do I realize I’ve been longing for a gigantic helping of inspiration.

Lately – does it have something to do with August? – I’ve been woefully uninspired. I’m slogging along with my novel and it’s like using a teaspoon to fill up a bucket. I’m rereading Jane Austen – usually a sign that I’m too exhausted to dip into new material. And the inspirational food is scarce. Hardly enough to keep body and soul together. I’m starving here!

In À la recherche du temps perdu, Marcel Proust describes the madeleine, his inspirational food, as a squat, plump little cake that looks as though it has been “moulded in the fluted valve of a scallop shell.” One day, he says, “mechanically, dispirited after a dreary day with the prospect of a depressing morrow,”

I raised to my lips a spoonful of the tea in which I had soaked a morsel of the cake. No sooner had the warm liquid mixed with the crumbs touched my palate than a shudder ran through me and I stopped, intent upon the extraordinary thing that was happening to me. An exquisite pleasure had invaded my senses, something isolated, detached, with no suggestion of its origin. And at once the vicissitudes of life had become indifferent to me, its disasters innocuous, its brevity illusory – this new sensation having had on me the effect which love has of filling me with a precious essence; or rather this essence was not in me it was me. I had ceased now to feel mediocre, contingent, mortal.

A long time ago a dear friend gave me a madeleine mold. I still have it. I could, perhaps, bake and borrow some Proustian inspiration. But I think that, until I find my own madeleine, I’ll continue to feel mediocre, contingent, and mortal.

Ding! Round over. I could use that wet sponge.

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