We know what’s supposed to inspire us. Nature. Music. Other things that inspire awe. But, do we really recognize inspiration when we see it? Do we recognize it when inspiration hits us?
I don’t. Especially when I hold “inspiring” to a higher standard. Inspiration isn’t just a warm fuzzy feeling. It’s what galvanizes someone to take action.
Looking back at the interactions and events that sparked a change in my life, I call them by other names.
I don’t know what inspired me to want a dog. Maybe I saw a cute picture somewhere. I certainly wasn’t aware of it when inspiration hit me. What we do know is that for months before we rescued our first Springer Spaniel, I spent every spare minute researching pet rescue sites, reading books about dogs, and gazing at online photos of dogs with their tongues lolling out of their mouths with unrequited longing.
The same thing happened when I had an idea for a book. Well, not the looking at dog pictures part, but the obsessive part. There were weeks when everything else fell away as I wrote.
I used to write for my church, but did nothing about making my love of writing into a vocation until my son was reading Sahara Special by Esme Raji Codell for his school book parade. Out of curiosity, I read it too. A teacher’s words to a secret writer resonated with me: “A writer writes.”
Perhaps Ms. Codell was my inspiration, but guilt played an equal role. A gift was gathering dust. I was shamed into action.
We, and by “we” I mean “me,” respond more to circumstances than to more ethereal forms of inspiration. Lyme disease left me unable to go back to work or to anything that was contingent on someone else’s timeline. Writing beckoned. Was there an inspiration? Maybe.
Maybe inspiration has to hit some of us a little harder.
In hindsight, I see that my grandmother, who wrote in secret throughout her life, was a source of inspiration. But using that term alone falls far short. She was the igniter of the obsession, model of how to do it (I started out in secret too), proof positive that writing mattered, and maybe even a little kick in the butt.
Your Turn: When Inspiration Hits
When and where did inspiration hit you? We’d love to hear your comments.
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