Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Subtle Inspiration

Sharon's post on Monday got me thinking about inspiration. It's a funny word. More a notion than an actual thing. We understand what it is to be inspired--at least in the moment we feel inspiration--but as Sharon's post demonstrated, it's tough to define in precise terms.

Writers tend to take the idea of inspiration as a straight line from ignition to paper. An idea hits and we're off, scribbling down impressions, stringing words to make pictures, tacking those pictures together to create story.


What if inspiration is something more subtle, even elegant?

Writers want inspiration to be an ocean, but my experience tells me it's more like a raindrop. An inkling that trickles a narrow path down the window of your mind so when you look through it's magnifying residue, life outside appears different.

Inspiration tricks the mind's eye. It tilts the world. It is anything that causes the sunshine and darkness in your mind to spill out of their safe compartments and into each other. It is courage. It both upsets your world and fills it with hope at the same time.

It's not an idea. It's an event, a party in your mind that changes you.

I'm deeply inspired by the sound of my husband's laughter. The sound moves my heart in new directions, reminds me of long abandoned dreams that suddenly feel close and purring.

I'm inspired by the feeling of being unhurried. I mean canoe-upon-the-glassy-water unrushed. I remember myself in those moments.

I'm inspired by poetry slams. The rapid-fire free verse done well can take me a fair pace through life.

Does any of this directly relate to writing? Yes, of course it does. Just not on the surface. These inspirations are the blush and tilt of any story I write. They are the charm, the brutality, the light hand whenever each is needed. They are the well I draw from and imp that sits on my paper and refuses to let me have my own way with a story.

Take a few minutes to close your eyes and let your mind drift to the things, people, places, sights, and sounds that inspire you.

Drift away on that tide of inspiration. When you're breathless, share with us what inspires you.


sherry caroll said...

i write non-fiction. so i find what inspires me is to go into almost a hypnotic state, i try to remember the dress i was wearing that day or the color of the hotel room curtains. or the name of the waiter or the smell of the room or the flowers or the smoke when the moment or space and spot in time im trying to recreate accuratly and bring back to life occurred. its amazing the things that come back to you when you concentrate on recalling the color of the tablecloth or what shoes you picked out that morning on the way to where you were going that day. instead of forcing your mind to try to find what what mattered on its own. the bits and pieces that return unexpectedly are so much more essential than what you consciously chose to retain, looking back, at least in my experience

Henrietta Frankensee said...

" It is anything that causes the sunshine and darkness in your mind to spill out of their safe compartments and into each other."
Inspiration is more than just the happy stuff. You have always encouraged us to 'go into the dark'. Push through. One who goes ahead has made a way. Bring the light with us. People inspire me. You, my friend whose stroke removed her right side and still hikes 3-4 hours in the wilderness with her dog, daily. Anybody who takes the light with them into suffering and sorrow.

Susie Finkbeiner said...

Yes. The trickle. It seems to dribble on me in the most unusual places. My husband knows the look in my eyes when the drop falls on me.

It's breathtaking.

I love this post, Bonnie. Thank you.

Cherry Odelberg said...

Ummmmmmm. Nothing delights quite like a well-turned phrase. Thank you.
Hungry for the laughter and the glassy water and rapid-fire verse.

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed your suggestion of finding "subtle inspiration" in the small things of life. To reflect on people, places and things that bring joy and inspiration to life. When I do this exercise, I think of the time when I was drifting in a stream with fluffy clouds floating overhead. There was a stillness and the warmth of sun beams that filled my being. I found contentment just being still and enjoying the moment of refreshment by the flowing water as it cooled me during this resting time. It makes me realize how wonderful it is to savor small moments. That moment was over 17 years ago but I can recollect details like it was yesterday. Wonderful post.

Bonnie Grove said...

It's interesting to me that on the day I post about inspiration, I find myself running from one thing to another unable to find time for a bathroom break, never mind feeling inspired. Life is funny. But as soon as I started reading the comments here, I felt the soothing balm of inspiration seeping in. Thanks!!