Monday, January 16, 2012


Recently, I heard word of a literary journal requesting submissions of poems and short fiction for its spring biannual, and decided to give it a shot. Long time followers (all two of them) might recall that I am also a writer. (I outlined the plot of a novel in 2008, and worked at it - albeit sporadically - for more than two years. Sadly, all my work is stuck on a broken jump drive. At my fingertips, but inaccessible, all because of a very small bend in the metal. I haven't had the heart to start over). The submissions are judged on merit alone, no previous publications or clips required, so why not toss a couple poems and a short story in the pot? But what to write? I needed ideas.
There are, it seems to me, two primary schools of thought about inspiration. First, the "devine spark" theory, the notion that good ideas simply pop into one's head unbidden. The proverbial light bulb over the head, keep a notepad beside your bed, lightening strike creative jolts that come from either the subconcious or possibly from - dare I say it - thin air.
The second theory is that inspiration not so much God-given as hard-won. These are the authors who schedule writing into their day like a full time job, plunking down in front of their computers and typing, whether or not they have anything to say. The hope is that some of the ideas that come out these work sesssions will be good ones, or will lead to good ones later on.
I wrote a lot of poetry when I was younger, and back then, I held fast to the first (and let's admit it--much more romantic) notion. And why shouldn't I? At 14 everything is fodder for a song. I just had so many FEELINGS. I couldn't think of anything more antithical, not to mention more depressing, that having to write like it's a job (I mean, isn't that kind of opposite of the point?).
But at my ripe old age of 29, I'm beginning to hold with theory numero dos. At any rate, I can certainly say that though I had plans to submit a few poems and a short story, here I am two days before the deadline with only one lonely poem to share. Is it because that's all I have to say? Certainly not. I just never sat down and made myself do it. Perhaps if I had, inspiration would have struck.
Where do you think inspiration comes from?

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