Have you been watching the Olympics? It's inspiring, isn't it? It occurred to me that the Olympics and writing have a lot in common, so I decided to compare writing and preparing for the Olympics. Here goes...
It is your calling. It starts with a dream (idea). For years you
practice (study) to be an _____*insert sport*(writer). It takes thousands
and thousands of hours of practice (words) to develop your talent.
The day comes when you are ready to try out for the team (submit your
work). All those years of hard work (writing) come down to one event.
You get accepted or rejected. If you are one of the lucky ones who makes
the team (gets accepted), the hard work continues.
You now spend thousands of hours practicing (rewriting). Your new
goal is to win a medal (sell your book). It is the ultimate prize for
all of those years of practice (writing). If you do win the gold medal
(make the best seller list) you may end up on a Wheaties box (with a
movie based on your book)! But seeing that book on the shelf (your name on the team roster) is the most wonderful feeling in the world.
Saturday, July 14, 2012
Answer - inspiration is everywhere. You may say that’s a cop-out answer, but I have heard countless writers say inspiration is everywhere. I admit, there was a time I felt it was a cliché until I learned to look at the world with the right attitude. When I opened my heart to the world, inspiration was everywhere.
I am inspired by what I see. A box marked return to sender or an old rusty tin can discovered in the tall grass is inspiring. Both of those hold endless possibilities – why was the box returned? Was it refused by a former lover? And who dropped that old can? How long has it been there?
I am inspired by what I hear. Nothing sounds sweeter than the music of the forest at night; a symphony of sounds that goes on all night long. Crickets chirping, owls hooting, the wind whispering through the trees stirs your soul! And don’t forget the melody all of those sounds you can’t identify. Have you ever heard a sudden burst of laughter or a deluge of tears? Did it make you wonder why the sudden laughter or tears?
I am inspired by smells. The aroma of an apple pie baking can stir my creative juices and suddenly, I am creating a character sitting in a warm cozy kitchen, waiting to eat that pie, or I am taken back to my childhood and I am the person waiting for the pie to come out of the oven. A whiff of perfume or the scent of a flower can contain many secrets. Have you ever caught a scent on the wind and wondered what it was?
I am inspired by taste. Grandma’s chicken and dumplings or a scoop of my favorite ice cream evokes a myriad of memories. All I have to do is listen. The sweet taste of your lover’s lips or the bitter taste of your own tears can move you to words flowing down the page. Have you ever tasted fear? Happiness?
Inspiration is everywhere. We just have to open our hearts and our minds to find it. Many years ago, before I ever dreamed of being a writer, I saw this quote on a professor’s door while I was wandering the halls of a building, its name long forgotten, at Virginia Commonwealth University. At the time, I was a new teacher and taking a summer workshop. I don’t remember much about that workshop, but I never forgot that quote. I embraced it and have read it millions of times over the years. It taught me a new way to look at life, and it taught me that inspiration is, indeed, everywhere.