Inspiration, the spark, nudge or lightning bolt that spurs creativity, is fickle. It zaps you at anytime or place. You seize it while it’s fresh and breathe into it to keep it alive. How many songs, stories, plays, ideas have been sketched out on cocktail napkins because there was nothing else to write on? Or, as in my case, the receipts stuffed in my wallet.
After the spark that turned into a flame and drove your imagination fades into a lukewarm ember, you can either let it turn to ash or you can give it a swift kick in the schlatz (as my mother-in-law used to say) with some intentional inspiration. Since I read Inspiration Point over at Sensibility & Sense, I’ve been mulling over the concept of inspiration.
I call an inspiration point a place or moment in time where a writer’s muse seems to jump into overdrive. Ideas for new stories flow like water, and we can’t seem to get the words down fast enough. I’ve had many “inspiration points” on this journey. Some are obvious, and others more subtle. But learning to recognize and remember them is important.
Actually, I started mulling on it after I got over my envy of Patti’s inspiration point. Why didn’t my grandparents live some place cool so I could use it for writing inspiration when I grew up?
When I got over the momentary envy, I thought back to my childhood. There had to be some inspiring place there. Well, I suppose Port Austin could be a writerly point of inspiration. For non-Michiganders, Port Austin is a little tourist town located on the tip of Michigan’s thumb. My mom was related to half the town, in fact her cousin was the mayor for years. I had memories of summer vacations and winter breaks spent visiting aunts and uncles. I’d hang out with my cousins and we’d wander unsupervised through town, having fun and getting into trouble.
I soon realized that the inspiration wasn’t Port Austin, the place. My family—my huge, tight, Polish family—was. There was a freaking fount of inspiration in easy reach that I’d never consciously considered. I’ve blogged about how close my thirty cousins and dozen aunts and uncles were. But when I got stuck at places in my writing, I’d try to imagine my way out of the brain lock, instead of looking into my past. Now, I don’t have to imagine my way out of the tough spots. Inspiration is already right there in my head.
It’s all there: love, jealousy, misunderstanding, forgiveness, anger, compassion, faithfulness, pain, and joy. And because it’s family and our lives twine together, all of these things are deeper, longer and more defined than the transient friendships of my childhood. Thanks, Patti, for helping me find my inspiration point.