Where do you find your inspiration? As a writer, I’ll tell you, I look in many places. Nature, however, seems to be the place I gravitate to the most. If I can see a waterfall, or hear a stream, it immediately brings a sense of calm. Later, the creativity will follow, into an uncluttered, open mind. (Well, as uncluttered as it gets anyway. There’s always something that could use a little work.) ;^)
Also, I think the best writers are great readers. Devouring books is the perfect way to see how it’s done. Of course, most of us read to read. That is a term that I tossed around frequently while in writing courses these last few years. While dissecting fiction, I wondered if I would ever be able to read for fun again, rather than reading a fictional piece to analyze the techniques.
Last semester, I was in the middle of writing a paper on a book that I really wanted to enjoy and was having a difficult time muddling through the technicalities that hover in the mind of a writer once trained. I mentioned this to a professor. She said, “Oh no! I want you to just read it. Don’t analyze it. Read it. Then go back and see what stands out. See what makes an impact upon you.”
So that is what I’m also asking you — not only where do you gain inspiration for what you do, no matter what dream chasing it may be, but what books do you read that inspire you? Is there someone that you’ve read that made you want to write like them? Why?
My daughter bought A Game of Thrones by G.R.R. Martin for me for Christmas. Looking at the 765 pages and the five or six volumes that follow, I was daunted, to say the least. But I found myself with a few idle days, (due to illness,) (boo) and I was able to read it. The praises of Mr. Martin have been sung far and wide. With an HBO series and untold volumes, he doesn’t need my praise. But I’ll tell you, I was inspired. I want to know history like he does. I want to design fully round characters like he does. I want to create antagonists that you love to hate and protagonists that you love to love, like he does.
I don’t want to be quite so graphic. Do you think that’s a requirement of a writer in this century? I don’t. I still believe that you can be effective without the gore and the four-letter words. Eyes, ears, and hearts are assaulted on many fronts with access to extensive media and it is increasing. Yet, I believe that we need more of the healing balm than ripping and shredding. It has to do with my views upon violence and its perpetuation. Where do we draw the line? On many subjects, I say, loose the boundaries. But there are other places that I must say that I prefer the lines to be distinctly drawn. I think that we need this as a society; not to take a head-in-the-sand approach, but to encourage innocence to flourish and gentleness to prevail. I still hope that it can.
My youngest daughter, also a writer and the one who bought me the book, gave me the journal in the photograph for my graduation. The embossed cover contains a Jane Austen quote. (She’s also the daughter who might chide me for being too uppity about this violence thing in the Thrones series.) But that’s okay. It takes all kinds. I appreciated reading the book. I loved it. I loved the characters. I want to know what happens to them. But I think that I will try a kinder, gentler writing style.
“Let other pens dwell on guilt and misery.” (Jane Austen)
That’s how I feel.
Mary Stewart pulled it off in her epic series of Arthur and Merlin stories, Legacy — The Crystal Cave. She is brilliant at portraying the history, hooking the reader into a marvelous, sweeping tale, and leaves you wanting more. She can write about the victim, but it’s more about the victory.
I think that is what inspiration is all about. Take a bit of this and a scrap of that, and work it into your own magnificent quilt.
One more quote for today then: