Inspiration is a word writer’s use with regularity, sometimes attributing the awakening of imagination as a thunderbolt or a spiritual visit by their muse.
While having a conversation with a fellow writer about this subject, she threw up her hands and hurled a random arrow at my argument. “Easy for you to say; you could write about wax in your ears,” referring to my ability to write on demand. And, she was right, I could, but who would spend time reading about my mining expeditions with a Q-tip?
Still, my suggestion to her when she was uninspired or as she called it, suffering writer’s block, was to write about her lunch. “If nothing else,” I said,” If you write about your noon-day meal every day, you might be inspired to eat better—find more appetizing choices to select at the diner or pack in that brown bag.”
Writing your way out of a slump, is like walking off a cramp—just keep moving.
Everyone writes differently. I rarely know where the story is going when I sit down to write. Other scribes will react to a tragedy or victory they see on the evening news and begin to imagine the back story, the victim’s flashbacks, their last thoughts and regrets, the final moments before the tractor trailer came hurtling down I-95 that made air bags an unneeded accessory on their newly purchased SUV.
Staring at a can of soup the other day, I thought about how Andy Warhol changed the art world with his Tomato Soup canvas. Even Madonna and Bono value rehearsal, but writers, as a general rule, somehow think our first effort should be a masterpiece, a stand-alone statement of our talent. Writing for practice is a part of the job.
I was still looking at the can of soup when the memory of migrant workers flashed across my mind. Killed in a van, a car accident, crammed so full of bodies there were simply not enough seatbelts to save any of them. They were here to harvest the tomato crop. I thought about the family sacrifice, the desperate poverty and the lack of employment opportunity in Mexico. I saw the soup can differently.
Characters started to bubble before the soup boiled. But, I wasn’t in the mood to write that day.
I chose to do market reconnaissance—research-- for lack of a better phrase. I wanted to write something funny, light-hearted and silly. Needing inspiration, I closed my laptop and went outside to play with the kids.
♦ After a thirty year career as a sales and marketing executive, Ingrid Thomson is a top-ranked author in a website writing community and a published short story author who is working on the final draft of her first novel.
♦ This author's generous contributions help make P&S possible.