All human work – poems, physics experiments, paintings, designing a space shuttle – is the result of exploration, failure, sweat and refinement.
How do great works of art come to be? Does inspiration strike out of nowhere like a flash of lightning? Cambridge researcher, Ruth Abbott, through studying William Wordsworth’s notebooks, finds the answer.
Within the pages of Wordsworth’s notebooks lie the creative process of a great mind. Some paragraphs he left alone, large chunks of others he struck through; some pages were even burnt.
Wordsworth worked on his great masterpiece in these notebooks until his death. It was never finished, never published. Altogether, he spent 50 years rewriting and revising it.
If we look at the notebooks in which he did this, we can see the experiments, choices and often failures of the great mind at work.
I look at these notebooks and I can see how much material, how much labour, how many experiments go into the creation of even the most spontaneous seeming work.
When he died, he felt his life’s work a failure.