Meghan P. Nolan
Inspiration or Motivation? : Writing as a Demonstration of Selfhood
Updated: Apr 16, 2020
my research on the traditional role of the Poet in relation to written concepts of selfhood, I have found that most schools of thought, perhaps up until the Modernists, believed inspiration—seemingly a poetic word for motivation— to be a gift from God, as they saw subject, voice and direction as distinctly separate from the poet-self and thus ordained by a greater power. Of course, religion played a larger role in the dissemination of such knowledge as a whole when these thoughts were prevalent, but that is not to say that this way of thinking is entirely incorrect. Even today, there are times where I sit down to write, and words and ideas just occur, as if a Universal connection has opened and the words pour forth in a way that I am left to wonder about their source. But, for the most part, I have found that inspiration and/ or motivation are derived from something truly personal— a material desire to create and produce complex forms of meaning through various forms of similitude (resemblance) in writing.
There is something deeply personal about the act of writing, because a piece of the self, as writer, infuses into written works in ways that often cannot be accounted for within Divine theory. This is true in two senses: One can directly choose to represent his/her personal experiences and various facades of the self via a written persona, as is the case with W.B. Yeats or Fernando Pessoa. (They each created a plethora of personal representations, and this extreme fragmentation may actually be closer to an accurate representation of the self than most lingual depictions.) Or, one can simply choose to write about any experience or subject matter sans the intent, because the self is ever-present, and it only exists through the very language that seeks to define it. And so, every written expression is in fact an expression of the self whether we intend it to be or not. Now, that is not to say that every work of fiction is a direct reflection of the author’s own personal experiences… I think we may have gone too far down that track in this (still?) postmodern weather. However, the writer’s style and presentation of experiences are indeed his/ her own. So, perhaps motivation is less about finding a cause for inspiration divine or otherwise, then, and more about finding a reason to express the self through the written word.