As far as pivotal moments go, I had one recently, last month in fact. I finally understood the meaning of inspiration in its simplest form. Last December, feeling like I was drifting without much direction, and on a whim bought a book called Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. My unseen friends had heard my
call, (okay so it was a scream) for divine intervention – geez give me a lightning bolt, light bulb – any kinda light! Just give me a sign!
This book was just what I needed at the time and devoured what she had to say about inspiration. Of course I know what inspiration is but technically knowing and ‘getting or understanding it’ are two different things in my book (pardon intended).
As I was reading about inspiration I reflected on how often I had let it slip away. Years ago when I was studying freelance travel writing and photography, a gazillion writing ideas would come home to roost but with a new baby to care for, I placed most of them on my lengthy, to-do-later list. What I was to discover was, inspiration always found someone else, ready, willing and able, to follow through with its divine mission.
What I learned was, inspiration is a thing – which of course it is, after all it is a noun. The Merriam-Webster dictionary describes it as:
- something that makes someone want to do something or that gives someone an idea about what to do or create : a force or influence that inspires someone
- a person, place, experience, etc., that makes someone want to do or create something
- a good idea
Inspiration is divine
It is a mystical, magical, ethereal, soul nourishing thing, much like a creative thought-bubble floating through the air, landing on the shoulder of an oft unsuspecting, surprised, then suitably excited individual, often followed by:
- goosebumps – check
- heart thumping – check
- gratitude expressed – check
- hair standing on end – check
- wild-eyed expression – check
- scramble for pen and paper – check
Divine inspiration has a mission
Its mission is to find someone who can pull whatever the creative masterpiece is, from its cocoon, start it and finish it. Lucky you when it homes in on your energy signature and lands on your shoulder. It chose you because you are what it has been searching for. So when it lands on your shoulder – create.
When inspiration finds its target it might be that the recipient falls over with excitement when rushing through the door to tell all and sundry – basically anyone with a few spare hours up their sleeve willing to remain mute while listening to the greatest idea in Mankind’s history. They will rattle off what they will do, how they will do it, how it will unfold, which publisher; producer; gallery; and contact person; they will send their divinely-inspired, creative offering to, and so on.
When hit by the Divine Writing Bug (one of many polynyms that can be reduced to one word: inspiration), the creative juices flow, the first words pour out from that creative thought-bubble with unbridled gusto, and onto the white, blank page before them. For several hours they will smile as each new paragraph takes shape, followed by frowning, sharp tut tuts, sudden shrieks of laughter, and manic muttering as paragraphs are rewritten, removed, or the word count increased.
Then something happens
The focus shifts.
Life, work, whatever it might be – focus has shifted.
They place their inspiration to the side, making heartfelt promises they will return as soon as this other ‘stuff’ is sorted out (eg need to wait until the children grow up and leave home; rainy day aside, save it until able to relocate to a sandstone cottage, where the mountains meet the sea etc).
Later, much later, in my case years, they return to their new masterpiece and find…nothing…nada…it’s gone baby gone. The divine connection to their creative project has done an Elvis and left the building. Now they are just words on a page. Sure the writing might be technically perfect, but have you ever heard a technically well played piece on a piano that lacked soul? I have. It lacks that special something.
Divinely inspired ideas want to be moulded into something special and be shared
Inspiration doesn’t do well when it is put on hold because stagnation will begin to seep in. Sometimes it will hang around for a while hoping and waiting for action, and other times inspiration can be as fleeting as a nano-thought – gone before you even recognise you had a thought.
I have 14 handwritten pages of flash stories from 2014 that I must/need/want to finally tidy up and publish. At the time of writing (and in my mind), the stories were fabulous, funny, and exciting. I can only imagine what my neighbours would have thought had they looked my way when deep in trance, laughing like a lunatic, with my brilliant ideas.
Not only do I have these handwritten pieces, I also have a draft stories folder on my laptop filled with stories waiting to be told but in all probability now have their grumpy pants on. The only problem is, these stories need a robust injection of inspiration to give them the super powers needed to give them life.
Inspiration cannot be destroyed
If we ignore or file away the creative thought-bubble it moves on and finds a new neighbourhood. It will keep drifting along, around the world if it has to, until it finds a home where its divine message will morph into being, from start to end, and is shared with others.
Message to Self:
Inspiration has chosen me – yes me, to bring forth a magnificent masterpiece of boundless creativity. So what do I do next time a creative thought-bubble bowls me over? I will do myself a favour and complete its mission so we can all come to the party and celebrate a win/win instead of crying in my milk!
PS I don’t really cry in my milk 😉
Thank you Elizabeth Gilbert for helping me with my ‘aha’ moment. BTW the rest of her book is good too 🙂