When Kiersten from She is Fierce started exploring this idea, I became inspired to write about it. I began to think about what it is and what it means to me. What do you think?
To me, being inspired is about paying attention. Looking up from your phone. Taking in the surroundings. Noticing a spider on the ceiling. Pausing to see the shape of a fern unfurrow and the flowers drooping brown. I think it’s also about being well-read and I’m not talking about literary classics either. I’m talking about the pop culture blog post about the latest movies, books and music. The article about Jennifer Aniston or the latest archaeological discovery.
But this is me. This is not contrived stretching, this is what I’m truly interested in. I was an Archaeology major and after reading about The Other Neanderthal, I clicked over to the article on Jennifer Aniston because it was subtitled “a monomyth”. Unfortunately, it wasn’t what I hoped it to be, but since I’m really into myths and fairy tales, I wanted know what it was about. And as far as pop culture goes, what can I say, I’m curious what’s got the crowds going crazy about.
Everyday people are also a source of inspiration. I know there is a story behind every person that I see and meet. I like hearing those stories, and sometimes making them up. There are stories behind objects, too, like how a dress got to you, where this book has been, or how that song led to three unforgettable nights. Inspiration is about curiosity.
My favorite reading or listening activity (I like audio books and podcasts) is to take notes. This is when my inspiration meter is soaring. It’s like I’m back in school and I’m writing down what I want to remember or I’m spinning off in a direction that I previously didn’t realize I even wanted to go. Although, I don’t write in books anymore, I have my notebook handy and I write down quotes or phrases that switch me on. Inspiration is catching those quick flashes. If you don’t catch it, you probably won’t hear it fly by again.
On Thursday, my certificate-level class had their writing test and one of my students wanted to listen to music while he wrote. I said no because it seemed like the teacherly thing to do. He begged and I consented. Not because he pleaded, but because I wanted to say yes all along. I know how important it is to write while you are comfortable and to him listening to music was his inspiration. He said he hated the silence. He’s also the most creative kid in the class.
I read that Stephen King listens to heavy rock music while he writes and that made me smile. It seems fitting, no? I can block things out and I think that is what helps me to concentrate and write. But I used to write in coffee shops because that seemed like the cool-cat thing to do. It’s fun to riff off of what other people say and imagine storylines. Poetry comes easier in these kinds of environments, too. Actually, writing in public spaces can be inspirational. Chuck Palahniuk writes in coffee shops. At least, he used to.
What I love about this question, “What is inspiration?” is it’s like asking, “How do you start a fire?” There are many ways, answers and avenues to get to your destination. What inspires you? What are your fire building techniques?
For your inspiration. Isabel Allende (love her!) on Tales of Passion. Have you seen it? You should!