Monday, June 09, 2008

Suggested Blog Topic-- Where do you find inspiration?

Suggested Blog Topic-- Where do you find inspiration?


Easy answers:


Inspirationville

Right next to perspiration, but not as stinky

Right after "inspect" in the dictionary


*

Better answers:

The museum

In others' books/poems

In science articles

In mongreens (misheard quotes)

In Paul Simon songs

In art magazines

In my iPod (podcasts of writer interviews, the Poetry Foundation's podcasts where they read poems)

Walking

In the shower

Long drives (though with gas prices, I should change this to long hikes or bike rides)

Late at night

Anytime I don't have the time to write, inspiration is there

* * * *

I think by using the word "find" in the question, there is an assumption that inspiration is lost. It's not. Sort of like that joke when the blessed woman said, "I found Jesus," and the Buddhist says, "I didn't know He was missing." The world is an inspiring place, we just need to take a moment to look at it through the eyes of artists, of writers. Honestly, inspiration really isn't hiding.


We do incredibly weird stuff here and pass it off for normal. The whole bottled water industry is proof of that. Or the daily $4 latte. Or or or. And it's not that any of that is inspiring, but it's material to write about. But it can be inspiring. Just walking through the grocery store and the selection of Jones Soda can be inspiring, or Muenster Cheese (I love that name, so much Herman Munster without the dragon living under the stairs.) Go to an aisle you never go done. I love the sections with foreign foods, how they sell candles of saints in grocery stores if you know where to look.

And there is natural inspiration everywhere. Just look at the sky. I swear, I cannot look up without being taken with how much more there is than our puny planet. It gets me every time. I've been on this earth 39 years I still call people to look out their window when there's a gorgeous full moon, or a sliver moon, or I yell to my family when there's deer in my neighbor's yard, or the quail in the magnolia tree, or the eagle flies by, or the killdeer is on the side of the road with her babies. I want everyone to see it.

I'm overcome daily by something I see in the natural world though that doesn't always transfer over to a poem. It would be like me cutting a moon out of aluminum foil and saying "It looked like this, but bigger." I lose the moment with the awkwardness of paper, I fumble with my pencil. Still, it inspires me to believe there's bigger reasons, there's gods around us in the form of foxes, owls, the moon rising over the land.

And maybe this is the key to inspiration, whether you are in the city or country, inspiration isn't looking to be found, it's just there. It's the details that make up our daily lives. It's the handsome farmer wearing an iPod driving the tractor through the field or the long black feathers in the hat of a woman leaving a cab. It's what separates the moment from any other moment, the big or little details that make day 13,396 different from 14,129.

I think another easy place to find inspiration is through other artists. One of my very favorite things to do is go to galleries or museums. And I'm inspired how others title the work. Recently at a garage sale (I get inspired at garage sales), I found this book called 19th & 20th Century Prints and Drawings. Besides having incredible images of art, I love just going through and reading the titles.

Here's a few randomly--

Lily & Bud (this is a color woodcut from Japan, but when I read it I thought of a edgy couple in a bar--Lily & Bud and I loved then seeing the image it went with and noticing how different they were).

Bonfire

Song of Broad Axe

Cardbird IV

Still Life with Coca-cola Bottle (obviously, we've moved into Warhol here!)

Many are in French, a whole joyous series by Chagall so I have to do my homework, but inspiring nonetheless.

* * *

I guess the answer to where do you find inspiration is an easy "everywhere." Though it's hard sometimes, especially when life's daily pressures seem to pull your mind from art to let's-just-make-it-to-nightfall. I guess that sometimes one of the blessings of being a writer is actually how little we need to make something. A pencil, some paper. A big stick and a beach.

There should never be the question "What can I write about?" because it's all there for you. Inspiration shouldn't be something you find, but something you try to carry with you. Keep it like a coin in your pocket, it's worth something, and available to you wherever you are, just take notice. Write down three unique moments in your day and see where it takes you.
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