Inspiration

Hello, SE community! Gwen with you today. For my debut post, I’ve decided to focus on a topic dear to most writers—inspiration. Have you ever wondered about that elusive flash of insight that stimulates our imagination? I’m going to try to unravel this mysterious experience, and as a first step, we’ll visit a museum.

Within most galleries, there are benches upon which the weary rest and aficionados gaze. The tired person might appear distracted, but the art enthusiast stares transfixed at the painting. These admirers seem lost in the world of the artist, even oblivious of the folks who crisscross in front of them. (Photo below by Steve Tokar)

Steve Tokar

It seems that when awe fills us, inspiration follows. For instance, when I look at the Prince of Peace by then eight-year-old Akiane Kramarik or Sea by Eduard Tomek, I travel to another time and place. With each of these paintings, I’m spellbound. How is it possible that a child can paint such a portrait, or an artist capture the fury of the sea? The passion in either painting is palpable and evokes our own, but how?  (Photos from Pinterest)

Jesus plus

In a similar way, music, dance, and meditation can shift our awareness. We can become so absorbed in the moment that we let go of our busy-thinking-world and enter another realm. For example, I’ve linked two popular songs, one by John Lennon and the other by Israel Kamakawiwo. If you are like me, these songs draw you into that special space. 

Lennon                        hawaiian

The written word, like all forms of art, can also be a source of inspiration.  

One such example is Where the Crawdads Sing by author Delia Owens. This book has been on the New York Times Best Seller List for over 100 weeks. Astonishing, right? 51NYjNgldSL._SX330_BO1,204,203,200_When asked about her inspiration, Owens mentions ordinary experiencesloneliness, life and death, relationships, and more. Through everyday happenings, she introduces the infinite common ground shared by all. Readers mention this very fact in reviews and interviews. They feel she speaks to the deepest part of themselves. 

Psychologist Carl Jung termed this experience of the universal, the collective unconscious. He explained that the collective unconscious contains the timeless aspects of the human experience. It is what feeds inspiration.

Writers naturally reach into this collective realm. An overheard conversation, a bird perched on a windowsill, a memory unlocked by circumstance, the most common experience can trigger the imagination. When it does, writers often sink into the experience and enter a collective inspired space.

Below are a few examples of what I consider to be inspired writing:  

“Still, there are times I am bewildered by each mile I have traveled, each meal I have eaten, each person I have known, each room in which I have slept. As ordinary as it all appears, there are times when it is beyond my imagination.”  — Author Jhumpa Lahiri, Interpreter of Maladies

“He stepped down, trying not to look long at her, as if she were the sun, yet he saw her, like the sun, even without looking.” — Author Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina

“There is a loneliness that can be rocked. Arms crossed, knees drawn up, holding, holding on, this motion, unlike a ship’s, smooths and contains the rocker. It’s an inside kind — wrapped tight like skin. Then there is the loneliness that roams. No rocking can hold it down. It is alive. On its own. A dry and spreading thing that makes the sound of one’s own feet going seem to come from a far-off place.” — Author Toni Morrison, Beloved

Untitled design - 2020-08-27T093843.644

Flashes of inspiration can feel other-worldly, even irresistible. We may shiver, we may not understand, but we are always drawn out of ourselves and into another realm—a transcendental world of shared legends and heroes, of good and bad, of myths and symbols, and more. Inspiration takes us there and draws readers to us because, from this collective, we are on common ground. It is then that the dance between writer and reader begins.

How about you? What evokes inspiration in you?

book dancers (2)

72 thoughts on “Inspiration

  1. Great post, Gwen:) I enjoyed all your examples, especially the songs! There does seem to be a connection to the experiences we share and our inspiration. When I lose touch with my inspiration, its hard to create and write. I’ve been actively finding my inspiration again.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. An interesting post. I’ve been asked many times, “Where do your ideas come from?” And not the easiest question to answer, because I think if you sit down and try to force them, they stubbornly hide. But the more you write, I think, the easier they come. You open yourself up to them. Prompts can help. They can jiggle you into letting ideas flow. And maybe that’s the trick, setting your subconscious free.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Judi. You are so right about “the more you write, the easier they come.” What a great insight. I’m in awe of the prolific writers within Story Empire. I’m much slower paced, I think. All the best to you! 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  3. What a lovely first post, Gwen. I was pondering about inspiration this week and am glad to say I share the source of inspiration with you. My husband and I watch the documentaries of the planet – the earth, the ocean, the animals… I would say I’m inspired by the resilience of the planet earth. I just pray that we humans would do our part to save it.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so much, Miriam. I share your prayer for our beautiful planet. I believe it is hurting during this time of duress, and if we collectively could shift our attention to it, we’d all be happier for it. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, Gwen, some nearly extinct animals slowly came back. Yet a big part of the rainforest lost to palm trees. The rain forest in Amazon alone is credited to most of the oxygen. Some countries built tunnels to direct the wild life to go across instead of cutting through the highways. There are more sanctuary for animals and certain interventions are happening. ❤

        Like

  4. This was a beautiful, thought-provoking piece. Thanks, Gwen. I’ve read that excerpt from Beloved twice now. It’s a stunning idea beautifully written and now I must buy the whole book. Looking forward to your other contributions.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. What a beautiful and “inspiring” post, Gwen. Welcome to Story Empire. I think you hit the mark on the “collective consciousness” of human experience. Despite our differences and our individual journeys, we share the power of the human imagination, a sense of wonder and beauty, of past and future, of universal empathy. What a gift to be able to communicate that core experience through our creative arts.
    (Just a note that the links to the songs are switched) 😉

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you for visiting today, Cathy. It is elusive at times and during this COVID ordeal, it can be especially so. Who has energy for anything, right? Take good care of yourself. We all need Spring 2021 to freshen our souls. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you for this post on inspiration. Most of my inspiration comes from snippets of conversations. I never quite know why a particular sentence or part of a conversation lingers in my mind until it finds its way into a story or blog post! I tell my friends and family to beware – they are all fodder for my writing.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Linda. Your comment, about telling your friends and family they are fodder for your writing, made me chuckle. I suspect snippets of family/friend exchanges find their way into our stories, intentionally or otherwise. But we’re expert at camouflage, right? 😃

      Like

  7. Oh, Gwen, this is such a beautiful post. I don’t even know where to begin. Both songs you chose touch me deeply. The words you chose to share from great authors touched me. The book you chose to talk about is one of the most lingering stories I’ve ever read. You are right! Inspiration is all around us. It can come out of nowhere and out of everywhere. As writers, I see it as our responsibility to translate those inspirations into words that might touch someone else. You certainly did that with this post. Hugs, sweet lady!

    Liked by 3 people

  8. I loved the soothing tone of this post, Gwen, and the beautiful examples of where we may find inspiration. Like most writers (artists and musicians, too), I’m open to inspiration striking in various forms. Whether it be visual, abstract, or even audio, it’s odd what my muse will latch onto. Sometimes, an idea might linger in my subconscious for years before it surfaces in a manner I can use in a book. I always love when inspiration strikes!

    Thank you for the lovely post today!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Mae, for your affirmation and support. I hadn’t thought of an idea lingering through the years, but you are absolutely right. Like fine wine, some ideas need time…and our readiness to explore the unknown it presents. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  9. What a beautiful post this, Gwen. As I was reading your words, thoughts went through my mind about inspiration. To try and pinpoint what inspires is a challenging assignment. I do know your post in and of itself is very inspiring. Your words and images are stunning. This is so well done, congratulations. ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Reblogged this on The Write Stuff and commented:

    Yesterday, Story Empire welcomed our newest member, Gwen Plano, and today, Gwen shares her first post on the blog. It’s a beautifully written piece on Inspiration, and is, in itself, a truly inspirational message. I do hope you’ll all stop by to see what I mean and welcome Gwen aboard. And please consider sharing this one far and wide so others can be inspired, too. Thanks, and thanks to Gwen for starting off her journey with Story Empire in such a beautiful way! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I can tell you this much: I am inspired by THIS post, Gwen! What a lovely thing to read. Robbie hit the nail on the head, for sure. I’m also blown away by the examples you shared today. The painting by the 8-year old is astonishing. And (as they always do), my eyes filled with tears at Israel’s version of “Over the Rainbow.” It’s my favorite song in the world (from my very favorite movie of all time), and his is the only version I’ve ever liked as much as Judy Garland’s. And even though both of them are gone, they are still inspiring us to this day with the music they left behind. That’s a wondrous thing!

    For myself, surrounding my desk with images of the places in my stories and of people who look the way I imagine my characters is the biggest inspiration I have. I work at this desk all day long, pretty much every day, and seeing these faces and places, houses and pets, rivers, and mountains, and waterfalls–that’s what gets me going every morning. (Along with my cuppa Earl Grey, of course.) But I agree with you that inspiration is all around us. We just have to open ourselves to what we see and hear and feel.

    Once again, welcome to Story Empire, and rest assured, you are off to a great start with this beautiful and inspiring post! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so very much for your lovely comment, Marcia. I’m entranced by how you surround yourself with your characters and places and so much more. I’m going to follow your lead. 😊 I, too, love Israel’s version. I can’t help but imagine that he had one of the greatest hearts ever created. Thank you again, dear Marcia. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      • I agree with you on Israel. He was certainly much loved, and that tells you something. I did a post on my Inspiration Boards here on SE if you want to take a look at some of what I do. Honestly, I smile every time I sit down at the desk. My whole library area is a tribute to books, reading, authors, and things of that nature. It’s my Special Place, even when I’m not writing. 😀

        And you’re very welcome. This post started my day off right! ❤

        Liked by 1 person

  12. Great introductory post, Gwen! I have a very strong inner voice and a vivid imagination. That combination tends to provide me with great story ideas. I believe those who open themselves to truly see the world around them will find inspiration in that stillness. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you very much, Yvette. What a gift you have! We’d have a different country if folks could slow down enough to “truly see the world around them.” Miracles abound for sure! 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  13. A beautiful description of inspiration, Gwen. I agree with Robbie, as your writing feels gentle.Thank you. Xx Inspiration feels tender to me and comes in the simplest of moments. When I am still inside as I feel creativity comes from my emotional well. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you, Jane. How beautiful your emotional well must be! Very similar to you, I experience inspiration as tender, as an opening in my heart. Thank you for sharing your well with me — I’m greatly moved. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  14. A friend once asked me where I got the ideas for my stories. I told her I’d always had an active imagination. But inspiration does come from all kinds of places and ways – reading a newspaper article, a photo, listening to a song.

    Your post was a wonderful start to my morning, and I agree with Robbie about your gentle writing style.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you so much, Joan. I tend to believe that as a whole, writers are intimately aware of Jung’s collective unconscious. We don’t think about it, we simply straddle two worlds (maybe more). Pretty amazing! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  15. This is a great post, Gwen. Inspiration is a difficult concept to try and explain, but you did a fine job. Museums have always been inspirational, as have churches. There’s something about being surrounded by beauty. These days, when access to those places is limited, I find inspiration in ordinary things.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. I believe that when we’re open, we can find inspiration anywhere … a raindrop on the window, the last few pieces remaining in a game of chess, music, a joke, the shadows cast by empty stools, and on and on.

    Reading this was like listening to a lullaby. Intensely relaxing while informing. Thanks, Gwen. Wonderful debut post 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

We'd love to know what you think. Comment below.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.