Monday, February 13, 2012



Photographs. Friends. Family. Music. Conversations. Films. Books. Books. Books.

Inspiration is an ingredient for writing, but there needs to be more. You need to be hungry and driven enough to even step into that kitchen in the first place. It's work. I surround myself with the things I need visually and aurally to propel me to write - old family photos, background music, whatever I'm reading at the moment, and my muses. These are integral to keeping the words flowing, but it takes something more to begin, and I'm finding it's so much easier to start when I'm only halfway there.

Some writers are scared of the blank page, but I welcome it. I'm more confident and comfortable knowing I need another 40,000 words than with the thought that the 80,000 I have need to be overhauled. I'm not talking about my initial read-through and revision upon completion of a first draft. I enjoy that. I love the part where I read over a chapter and make changes to sentences, tweak a turn of phrase and bend a metaphor or two. But this idea that there are flaws in the storyline, or with a character? I can't figure out where to get started. There must be some fissure I can push my finger into that will allow me to peel back the rough rind and work with what's in there.

The inspiration wall over my desk is hung with old photos and new, with hand-written quotes and memorabilia that have helped me get to the completed drafts of two novels. I listened to months' worth of Lester Young, Oscar Peterson, Thelonius Monk, Billie Holiday, Sonny Rollins and dozens of others to put myself in the right mind to write 5 NIGHT STAND. And yet, neither the photos nor the music seem helpful when it comes to revising. That's work.

Others have been writing and posting about inspiration lately. Bobby, over at Spillmanville, waxed eloquent about music and food and drink. Everyone everywhere is inspired, whether a writer, painter, photographer, musician, photographer, chef, computer programmer, teacher, landscaper or architect. It's something personal, something from within that is touched off by something from the outside, and I hope you find yours.

I know this, too: successful writers will tell you not to wait around for it. That to wait for inspiration is to sit at your desk and stare at that blank sheet without ever filling it up. So I don't. I sit down and write, surrounded by the things and sounds that fill my imagination.

But right now those blank pages are all filled up and I'm glancing around for the spark that will ignite the fire to light the way back into this thing. And right now I'm only finding a confidence-shattering darkness.