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Point of Inspiration

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.

lennonlyrics

In My Life by John Lennon

 

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. 

-Patti Richards

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.

Me and the cousins aka The Roy Orbison Stalkers

Me and the cousins aka The Roy Orbison Stalkers

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.

 

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8 comments on “Point of Inspiration

  1. Inspiration seems to scoot away when I go looking for it. It comes a calling when I least expect it…usually when I’m feeling miserable, sad, or downright irritated. When I’m happy and want to write something uplifting and inspirational, that’s when the well is as dry as dust. When I’m so low that I need inspiration myself, it finds me and the words pour out. Odd, huh?

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  2. It’s cool that you know when you won’t be inspired. I’m thinking this type of inspiration will help me when I get stuck on characters and their motivation.

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  3. That’s one reason I keep a little digital voice recorder in my car all the time. I never know when an idea will strike me, and if I don’t record it immediately, I’ll forget it by the time I find something to write on.

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    • That’s a great idea. I keep a notebook in my purse, but that doesn’t help when I’m driving. Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve ever been inspired while driving. I’m too busy complaining 😉

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  4. I don’t believe in karma, but if I did I would think that the good karma of inspiration was balanced by the bad karma of always arriving at an inconvenient time, like some kind of immutable, Ying-Yang law of the universe.

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  5. You may be on to something. I get a lot of inspiration while I’m in the shower. Can’t take paper or recording devices in there. No need to comment on this comment. I already know what you’re thinking.

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  6. This is great advice…I should start drawing upon my crazy Italian family for inspiration! Thanks for a lovely read.

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