Sparked by Words

Posts tagged ‘inspiration for writing’

Muse

If you don’t stop agitating me, I’ll start writing a new book, and you will be in it, but you might not like the way I portray you.

If you console me and press a sharpened new pencil into my hand, you will be in the book even if you don’t recognize yourself. Still you will be there.

Know you must stand by my side and make me write. Your destiny and mine.

Such is the casualty once my trembling has stopped.

 

 

Just a thought 39

 

Photo of sculpture of two people in prayer by Cape Town, South Africa artist, courtesy CCO Creative Commons

A New Eden

Words might inspire but

no value befalls without action, nor

nor do all the hovering words in

all the languages of the world

speak nearly as well as

digging the shovel into the ground

that seeds can be planted,

for inspiration lasts only as long as

one shower, water enhancing

the sensation imagined,

yet imagination lasts only as long as

one stands under the trickling drops,

wondering when to turn off the water,

exit the shower to recall the

thoughts made brilliant by heat,

echoes, and dampness,

then to tease out the single line

worthy of writing to begin

to plant story, that in time

the bounty can be harvested,

a table set for celebration, and

seeds poured left hand to right,

right hand to left, and back again,

water trickling down and down,

prodigal with promise of food, drink,

ideas to discuss, to plot, to invest,

and dreams to nurture,

vowing more words to rise

before the season of bounty ends,

then to consider from where

the seeds first had come,

who the first planter,

who the gardener, and who the one

who labored long to harvest,

and would seeds appear once more

or take flight forever,

or in a moment of serendipity

bequeath the legacy of

a passion for inventing,

a trove of readers,

a yield of love,

that you and I might one day

decide to grow our garden

and plant our seeds and pray

for rainfall, sunshine, fortune,

then welcome all to the feast

of words gathered from Eden,

hoping to leave the miraculous

breath of curiosity that might inspire

you and you and you and you

with words that tell a story

amen yes amen

 

Just a Thought 37

 

Wheat Field by Vincent Van Gogh, courtesy CCO Creative Commons

Daydream, Writer

I wonder what you remember of being a kid in school. What was the most common remark you heard from your teachers? It might have been anything of the myriad activities that engage young children at the perimeter of studies. Don’t write on the desk. Stop running in the hall. Sit up straight. Throw out your gum. Turn to the right page. Stop talking to Sally (Henry, Willis, Coralee.) Sharpen your pencil before class. That’s not a word we use in school. We heard all those comments directed at kids who needed reminding about the purpose of school: practicing times tables, practicing spelling words, practicing cursive writing, practicing reading, practicing memorizing. School instruction was not interesting so much as required. School instruction was not creative at all. It was practice for something else.

None of those comments were directed at me, however. I heard another order – often – from every teacher through the elementary grades. “Sharon, stop daydreaming.” Because there I’d be, my head turned toward the huge windows along the back wall, staring out at the gray and yellow skies, the bare limbs of the trees, the steeple of the church across the street. Caught daydreaming again about all the possibilities of life outside our classroom, wondering what it would be like if. My teachers thought I was wasting time but I was imagining a different world. I turned back to the current lesson though not for long. I’d be daydreaming again before the end of the day.

I recently read Seven Brief Lessons on Physics by Carlo Rovelli. The first chapter was about Albert Einstein and the fact that he spent a year doing nothing but daydreaming. Einstein’s daydreams led him to conceptualize some of the most revolutionary ideas about the nature of physics and the role of light, energy, and matter in the origin of the universe. After that daydream year he had a creative explosion that resulted in him writing four important papers that identified the connective nature of just about everything in the cosmos. Eventually he won the Noble Prize.

Everyone should daydream. Children should daydream, inventors should daydream, lovers, the aged, politicians, priests, and travelers should daydream. It isn’t enough to do the ordinary and expected, to take notes and photos, to make lists and plans. We writers should daydream. Inside the daydream is the inception of wonder, the place where everything begins.

Writers need a break from ordinary routine. We put too much emphasis into the strategy we think should result in brilliant writing. It’s like buying the most expensive computer system, adding an outstanding writing program, lining up research files, and then drawing a creative blank. The novel doesn’t emerge.  Great story writing doesn’t come from elaborate equipment. It comes from slow and careful observation about the world, thinking about the human experience until the artist has insight about life.

Once we start to write, we should not try to write well. We should just write. Let the words flow and don’t worry about whether or not it’s good. That’s not for us to judge anyway – that’s for readers to judge. And maybe what we should be doing is not writing at all for a while but continue the daydream until writing organically enters our stage.

Everybody knows Einstein did poorly in school, that he appeared to do nothing for a while. But it isn’t true that he didn’t do anything – he observed, he thought, he let ideas flourish in his brain. He wondered. That year of daydreaming was the catalyst for the extraordinary and continuing bursts of brilliance that allowed him to cultivate his curiosity and resulted in the synthesis of his ideas. That led him to develop one of the pillars of modern physics, the theory of relativity.

Maybe we don’t have everything yet.  Maybe we need time spent looking around the world, observing, thinking, wondering, the way Einstein spent that year looking at the universe. Because if we don’t find the world enchanting – the way the clouds gather around the moon, the way we can talk to a stranger who doesn’t speak our language, the way the horizon stretches to infinity yet never really exists at all – we might as well stick with writing shopping lists.

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 This article was adapted from a letter sent to a friend.

Photograph of Albert Einstein courtesy of Pixabay.com