Writerly Inspiration-Where Do You Get Yours?

I was toiling with a new post topic today and after I spent some time reading the writings of several of my Writer's Club friends, I wanted to take a moment to ask the question; Where do you get your inspiration?  Not to necessarily come up with plots or story ideas but your inspiration to "Write". 

Do you seek a comfortable spot in your bedroom, living room, office?  Front yard under a shady tree?  Does a particular song track inspire you, a favorite book, a moment in life? 

I find reading and a particularly nice day like today, inspirational beyond words.  I have begun my first real chapter of my memoir and I can actually say, "Yes, I am working on my book"..  That seems so strange but REAL.  Also a bit scary and over-my-head... 

I can also say a big inspiration for me was the writer's conference.  Workshopping with all those writerly minds and intuitive thinkers as well as "prose prone pronouncers", was extremely profound.. If I do say so myself.  I absolutely felt a fire kindled inside as I sat surrounded by so many creative thoughts and authors.

I honestly believe, the true key to writing is reading.  If you find yourself struggling with plot, prose, character development and setting, pick up an author you admire in the genre you habitat and READ.  By reading others' work, you will find the method to kill cliches, build and develop your characters, fine tune your setting and build tension. 

I would like to end this post with an invitation to those reading to leave behind for others your inspiration.  I would also like to quote a favorite author, Frank Conroy from his book StopTime (1967).  There are two paragraphs in his memoir where he is describing his parents as he views them just before they take a journey across country in the family car.  First, his mother:

"In front, my mother, rather tall for a woman, with an abundance of blond hair and wide, cleanly cut features.  She radiated the robust freshness of a farm girl-her forebears were, in fact, Danish country people-missing ideal Scandinavian beauty only because her face lacked suggestiveness.  Studying it you noticed that things were a little too big.  She was handsome rather than beautiful, but for all that men's heads never failed to turn."

And his stepfather:

"Next to her, in the driver's seat, was Jean, a man of almost impossible Gallic good looks.  The ne'er-do-well son of a collapsed aristocratic New Orleans family, he had been around for years, seeing my mother while my father was away.  He was six feet tall, slim, and sported a black mustache.  The bones of his face and head were extraordinarily delicate and well proportioned, just slightly smaller than life size, accentuating their fineness.  A perfect Greek head, but without the Greek effeminacy.  His features were French and masculine.  Dark, almost black eyes, a thin humourous mouth.  He smoked cigarettes through an F.D. R. holder but affected the mannerisms of the proletariat.  I rather liked him, which was lucky.  From this trip on, for the next eight years, he was my stepfather".

Although in cases of character description, these may be lengthy in some scenarios but to Frank Conroy at this time in his life, these were the two most important people in his young life, who would forever shape his next few critical years.  It was clearly important for him to give a personal account of their features, mannerisms and also how he may have "felt" about them. 

Reading inspires me. 


Cathy Kozak said...

A pinch or two of real life, the freshest, wildest imagination you can find, and a thesaurus to taste. Combine and let simmer, bubble and simmer, simmer and bubble then stir stir stir as fast as fast can be. Dump in a handful of magic and ... poof! A wicked, heady brew!


Adrian said...

Cathy, love it!! You did it for me!!

Julie Flanders said...

I love Cathy's comments, there's not much to add to that!

Congratulations on starting your memoir, how wonderful! I'm so with you on a particularly nice day being inspirational. We are having gorgeous spring weather today and when I was walking my dog in the park before work, I felt a rush of energy and wanted to start writing immediately. I hope I can hang on to that inspiration now!

Adrian said...

I agree!! And thank you on the final "start of my book". Sounds so intimidating.. Finished chapter one today. I like about half of it.
That is what revisions are for!

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I figured things out late in life, like what I wanted to do, getting married (age 30), having kids, (36 and 38) and changing degrees about 3 times. Now as a cop of 19 years and in my mid 40's, I am finally figuring out some things. My first career or dream of becoming a writer is playing more in my head and daily life than ever. I love it. Thus the blog. It is all mine. I also love being a mother. They are all ours. I love my husband and as a cop, wow.. have I seen some things. Street degree. I got it. Let us learn together. I also am on She Writes.