Inspiration by another name

“How’s your writing going?” a young man asked me during a holiday gathering.

“It’s going exactly as well as my ability to stay in my chair and keep writing,” I responded.

He nodded with a knowing smile. He’s a writer, too.

We went on to talk about the importance of butt glue.  Butt Glue is the rather irreverent term I picked up from a speaker at the Iowa Summer Writing Festival. I loved it and adopted it at once. Butt glue acknowledges the reality that writing is hard work and a writer can find more reasons to do another load of laundry than to type one more word.

I’d thought butt glue was a clever new phenomenon. Imagine my surprise to find that in the early 19th Century a similar substance was in common use. Anthony Trollope, a successful British novelist, shared that ‘the surest aid to the writing of a book was a piece of cobbler’s wax on my chair.’

Non-writers often believe that writing is inspired and flows effortlessly from the writer’s brain and fingertips. So strong was that belief in Victorian times that when it was learned Trollope believed more in cobbler’s wax than inspiration, his writing fell out of favor amongst critics of the day.

Another author cleverly gave the nod to both inspiration and dedication. He said, ‘I must be inspired to write. So I make it a point to be inspired every day from nine a.m. until noon.’

I have stocked up on butt glue for 2011 and am using it faithfully every weekday morning. If it gives out, can anyone recommend a good source for cobbler’s wax?

*Photo by Rick McCubbin

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