adventures in inspiration

“Talking with you is always an adventure,” said Candace, “I say, brain, get in gear, can’t just go along for the ride!”

In another context, this might be highly offensive – one might think she meant that one’s thoughts had transcended the nonlinear into the nonsensical – but I had just been describing the multiple inspirations for one of my newest works: Ravel, the Adirondacks, two couples, and traits peculiar to Canada Geese.

Of course, she might have been perplexed or stymied, but I don’t think so, I think she meant me to hear the compliment I heard.

Where does it come from, inspiration?  How does one woman’s prompt translate as some other writer’s apathy?

Conversely, I’ve seen a number of new plays, lately, that have clearly come from a writing-class prompt, and I’ve seen them at a pretty high level of production.  I find myself wondering, where’s the inspiration in that?  Some good writer had a clever idea based on a classic play or story, and didn’t know when to quit.

And, given that lit managers and artistic directors embrace these works, maybe they shouldn’t quit!

But I’ve also watched their audiences fall asleep while critics write look-aren’t-I-erudite rave reviews.

I doubted such a thing as writer’s block until I had a bout, but even then, inspirations popped up everywhere.  They fizzled whenever I tried to pursue them, but that stoppage was a temporary thing.

And still, I don’t understand how any curious person could walk down any street on any day and not be utterly bombarded with writing stimuli.

I do get the difference between an organic spark among disparate elements, and a writer’s prompt that mixes apples and orangutans.  The latter shows up in the GRE, and evidently in university writing courses in which time is of the essence.

But creation works in its own timeline, and plays written under duress usually lack elegance and grace.

So here’s to Helen Keller’s grand adventure.  Here’s to letting any little instinct, any wisp of reaction or response make us say, “What the hey!” and scribble or jot or calligraph or type or pencil or crayon or sing or dance or all of the above.

Because the prompts are there.

The stimuli are there.

The only thing lacking is our being good sports about the whole thing, being gung-ho.


I’m going to.

And I do love company.

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