I am Captain Picard – Finding Your Muse
By Jeff Hite
This morning on my way to work, I was Captain Picard. Let me back up a little and explain what I mean. In spite of what ever feelings you might have about who is the best captain, or who should go down in history as THE captain of the Enterprise you have to admit that Captain Picard was captain of the Enterprise and he did deal with some pretty cool (cool in both good and bad ways) stuff. And despite the fact that he was not Captain Kirk he did so in a way that made each and everyone of us at some point in time say, “I am glad he was the captain.”
Now, no matter what you think of the movie there is a scene in “First Contact” where Picard is alone in his quarters (or many be his ready room I am now sure now) with the music cranked up so loud that there are things on the desk that are shaking. Loud enough that he can’t hear is door chime, the door open or close, and only notices Riker standing there when he opens his eyes and sees the reflection.
To understand this scene, you have to understand Picard’s position at this point. He has been in charge of this ship and this crew for a long time now. (the Enterprise in general, technically he has had the Enterprise E only a year.) He trusts his officers completely and he knows the ship could pretty much run on it’s own without him. But he loves what he does. There are scenes in the TNG series, where you can see that even the idea of leaving the Enterprise for a short time, to do things other than explore the galaxy, pains him. I am thinking specifically of “Starship Mine.” The problem is that in the current situation, his ability to do just that, what he loves, has been called into question.
The Borg are attacking, and it is technically his fault. If he had not taunted Q in “Q Who” the Borg would not even know there were there. If he had not been captured and almost destroyed the federation in, “Best of Both Worlds I & II” The Borg would not have half the information they have about starfleet and might not be attacking Earth right now.
Starfleet, the people who put him in charge of the Flagship, have lost confidence in him, and don’t believe that he can safely face the Borg again. He knows he should be in this fight, but when it comes right down to it, They don’t trust him. On top of all that, He has the Borg “whispering in his ear.”
Let me take just one more moment to explain the Borg at this point. No, I am not going to tell you what or who the Borg are. If you are fan of Star Trek at all, you know what they are. No, I want to tell you want they represent. The Borg are every fear we, collectively and individually, have ever had. They are are the every problem that we could not surmount. They are every insecurity, every self doubt, everything that we don’t believe that we can do. They are the end of everything we hold dear, a giving up of everything. “Lower your shields and prepare to be assimilated.” They are the enemy that no matter how heard we try we can’t beat. Up to this point the Federation has never really won a battle with the Borg. Oh sure they have destroyed a cube or two, but only at incredible cost, think Wolf 359.
So, right now, Captain Picard is at his lowest point. He knows what he should do, he knows where he should be, but no one else believes he should be there. So what does he do? He does what he is told (goes on with his job.) But once he has gotten to a point where he can put things on auto pilot, he goes to his room and he shuts out, by means of the music, all the “voices in his head.” He can’t hear any of them, including the ones from inside his own head, (that is very important) and he can just let the noise wash over him while he collects his thoughts.
That, is how I was Captain Picard this morning. I sat in my car, the best ship in the fleet, (my ‘98 Toyota Corolla) and I let the noise wash over me. I was driving to work so there was an element of “auto pilot” that could be engaged, and for a moment all of the self doubt, all of the insecurities all of the problems, the trials and tribulations of my life could be blocked out and for a short time I can just think.
What the heck does any of this have to do with writing? Simple, If you want to write, and I mean really write, you have to love it. You have to be Captain Picard, in that not writing (being away from the Enterprise) is down right painful. If you are going to write, you have to put that doubt aside. You have to be able to say to all of the people that doubt your ability to do what you love, that what they think does not matter. You have to drown out all of that noise, of your life, all the Borg voices, and believe in yourself. So that when it comes down to time to sit down in front of that keyboard and write, you can do it with the confidence that going to sector 0,0,1 in direct violation of your orders, is the right thing to do.
There is of course more than one reason I do this. When I can quiet the rest of the voices in my head, I can let the wheels of my creativity run free. When I do that is where most of my best writing comes from. Music that is too loud, with lyrics I am usually only half listening to, taken completely out of context, are wonderful fodder for stories. I have written three stories, including a novella, based on one set of misheard lyrics. So yeah crank the music up. And let yourself be Captain Picard.
Jeff Hite is primarily a Husband and father, during the day he works as an IT professional, and in his spare time when he is not spending way too much time watching and teaching his kids to love Star Trek, he is the managing editor of Pirate’s Cove.
I special thanks to Memory Alpha and sfdebris for helping me keep my facts straight and in depth analyses of the characters.