As a writer, I’m asked many times, “Where does your inspiration come from?” This is a very good question, with many possible answers.
In thinking about the question, it occurs to me there are different kinds of inspiration. We can be inspired by people, places, or things. We can be inspired by events, or acts of any kind, and nature is inspiring in both its simple and complex designs.
Writers, singers, and artists of all mediums claim inspiration for their works. What inspires us is unique to each individual. Inspiration often results in an animating action or reaction. Inspire is a verb; meaning it’s an action word. It causes a person to do, think, act, or believe differently than before the inspiration occurred. It honestly doesn’t matter what inspires a person. The important thing is that the person feels deeply affected by the experience, and for artists, sometimes results in the creation of something new.
For me, inspiration comes in many forms. People can inspire me profoundly. Seeing others tackle their fears and overcoming them, inspires me to examine my own fears and overcome them. Events can inspire me and have a huge impact on how I view myself and the world around me. Watching the news and hearing of acts of altruism and humane behaviours by others makes me want to reach out and help too. Nature is also extremely inspirational for me. I never cease to be inspired when walking along a long sandy beach, through a deep green forest, or watching animals in their habitat. Places of great beauty, architecture, and art inspire me. A sunset or sunrise touches me deeply. I become humbled by the beauty of art and the talent of the artist, and sometimes they inspire me to reach inside myself, and have confidence in whatever small talent I may possess. To honour the things that inspire me, I have chosen to live in area that’s close to the water, is surrounded by tall trees, and I decorate my home with various reminders of things and people I love.
When I write a story, I draw on everything that inspires me. I pull from the depths of my own experiences when I write my characters, places and events, even if the story has a fantastical element to it, or is set centuries in a past I could never know. At any time I might be inspired by something and think what a great story that would make. Ultimately, I am intrigued and inspired by the human condition and the world we inhabit.
Even when researching a story for characters, places, and events, I become inspired by the facts I read. I am fascinated by regular people who accomplish great feats. I readily admit to being in love with the life altering forces of love. I’ve begun to realize we all have the power to make significant changes to our lives, the lives of others, and the world in which we live. I guess that’s why I allow my characters to follow their dreams, and act in ways which cause them to question and grow. I encourage failure as a means to discover the successes, and in order to appreciate those successes.
Recently I was speaking with a woman who commented “Well, all we can do is try to survive.” That comment upset me and caused me to immediately reply, “Not really. We also need to dream and strive to achieve something better.”
Now, this woman had grown up extremely poor, and was born in a country that didn’t offer much in the way of education or opportunity, so she’d learned to keep her head down and survive. That’s an important lesson when in crisis. But she also left that country, married, had a child, and kept striving to improve her family’s financial circumstances. Even though she didn’t give her actions credit, something must have inspired her to accomplish each of those things. Otherwise, she’d have stayed where she was and kept plodding along.
When I listen to people like Tony Robbins, Oprah Winfrey, or anyone for that matter, who encourages change and the belief that we are all capable of acting on our inspirations, I am inspired. I begin to look forward to the challenges of walking my own road, and finding who I’m supposed to be. I love hearing it when others talk of finding that same burning desire; the desire to do more than survive.
Writing is a notoriously difficult road to walk. It can often feel lonely. The writer sometimes feels misunderstood by family and friends. The path to becoming published is far from easy, no matter whether the writer decides to work with traditional publishers, or opts to self-publish. It’s damned hard work. It takes a very long time, and there isn’t always a gold star at the end of the day. But when inspiration strikes, the writer, as with any artist, is compelled to share it with others. Why? Who knows? I certainly don’t claim to have the answers. I just know that, for me, it feels right. It feels the most like “me” than anything else I do with my waking hours.
What I know, is that someday I hope to inspire others to follow their own dreams and succeed at whatever it is they feel is their purpose in life. I don’t care if it’s walking on the moon, being the best teacher they can be, or dedicating their life to their family. It doesn’t matter. We are all driven by needs that are separate and apart from money and “surviving”. It gets mixed up in our childhood experiences, in our own perceptions of the world, and who we believe we are. Life isn’t easy. It’s not supposed to be. But it constantly ebbs and flows with new experiences, new opportunities, and new tomorrows.
None of knows how long we have on this earth, but I’m inspired many times a day, if I seek inspiration, to make the most of what time I do have. I have many, many dreams for my future, and sometimes wish I’d discovered this path I’m on years ago. Because I’m already in my mid-fifties, I worry I won’t get to do all the things I want to accomplish, write all the stories I’d like to write, and visit all the places I’d like to see. But that’s not up to me. What’s up to me is how I use my days, how I treat the people around me, and whether or not I continue to seek and act on inspiration. As for the rest, I guess I’ll just have to trust that whatever the future holds, it’ll be enough.
Please take a few moments to comment and share this with your social networks. Tell me, what inspires you and what do you do about it?