mission: MUSE - "what inspires you?"
EVEN LOST INSPIRATION CAN INSPIRE
I’m feeling uninspired today, so my first inclination is to avoid the subject of inspiration. But what better time to write about it? Some writers who lose inspiration suffer from writer’s block. I’ve never come down with that particular malady. Sometimes I do write tripe, but the words keep coming. This may be because my early training took place in TV newsrooms, where writer’s block wasn’t allowed. Reporters who miss deadlines get fired, so I developed the habit of writing whether I felt inspired or not.
I find inspiration in myself - even when I'm feeling blue for no accountable reason.
Yet sometimes the words are hard to come by. When I’m struggling, it helps to go back to basics. That’s when I write “Dick and Jane sentences,” ie: “See Dick Run. Run, Dick, Run!” If I can’t tell a story creatively, I tell it un-creatively: “A family’s house burned down. A little girl stood outside in her nightgown and cried.” If I write this way for a while, soon the logjam breaks and the words flow again. Later, I go back and rewrite the beginning: “The little girl stood outside in her nightgown, staring at the place where she used to sleep. She cried, no longer having a room where she could wake up from a nightmare and feel safe.”
Inspiration sounds joyful. But in the case of writing about a girl who loses her home, inspiration is not a happy thing. Still, for the writer it is there, fueling creativity, just as oxygen fuels that imaginary house fire. What is this inspiration composed of? My experiences, even if the experiences are sad or confusing. So to be inspired, I must seek to experience.
This is as true of life itself, as it is of creativity.
A few friends tell me I inspire them, and sometimes it embarrasses me. The Dalai Lama is inspirational: a spiritual leader banished from his homeland who continues to teach love, peace, and patience. Temple Grandin is inspirational: an autistic scientist who became a pioneer in the humane treatment of livestock. As for me, only two tiny things set my life apart in any way: 1) I don’t let fear stop me from doing what I want, and 2) sometimes I want different things from other people. I love to travel, so I travel, even when I fear the unknown. I love to write, so I write, even when I worry that I’m not up to the task. It doesn’t take much to achieve that level of inspiration – just a willingness to reach out for yourself, and to reach out to others.
|I recently worked with a young homeless woman on a film project, and a few weeks later, she vanished.|
I recently worked with a young homeless woman on a film project. We learned a lot from each other. A few weeks later she vanished. I spent an evening looking for her, phoned a few times, and then moved on. Soon I’m going to teach a writing class for middle school kids. I wonder if we’ll inspire each other. I wonder if any of them will disappear. Either way, I’ll keep moving on. Is this all there is? Discovery, inspiration, loss, new discovery? Perhaps. But the inspiration remains.
My memoir, They Only Eat Their Husbands, comes out next month, a goal I’ve worked toward for years. Yet when I contact bookstores, literary organizations, and the media to set up events and reviews, most have no idea who I am, and some find my calls a nuisance. I’ve always known that life isn’t about the destination, but the journey. Yet I see now that this doesn’t just mean the destination is secondary – rather, the destination doesn’t exist. It’s like the horizon: a distant line beyond which I cannot see, and which recedes as I approach.
For me, it’s not in looking forward, or in looking back, that I find inspiration. It is in looking next to me and seeing who is there, learning who they are, and discovering what we can offer each other. I find inspiration in everyone who is part of my life: the husband who travels with me, the homeless woman who vanished, the school kids I have yet to meet, and in myself – even when I’m feeling blue for no accountable reason except that I’m entering a new phase in my life and don’t know what comes next.
I find inspiration in the husband who travels with me.
I live between yesterday’s losses and tomorrow’s horizon. So, as a writer, I write from that place. It’s the emotional weather of day-to-day life and love that fuels my characters and scenes, whether they’re fictional or real.
I leave you with this question... "Imagine you have no fear, what adventure would you begin?" Leave me a comment and one giveaway winner will receive a signed copy of my new book.
Thank you for inviting me to muse with you. - Cara