Tag Archives: inspiration

Research and Inspiration

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This was a hard week. I had some major anxiety about medical tests for myself and my dad and didn’t feel 100% for most of it. Luckily, we both got some good news. I’m not out of the woods, but what they suspect I’m suffering from is a mild case. This is a huge blessing. I was very worried I had another surgery in my future.

So, this is going to be a quiet weekend for me. I have some things on my to-do list, but mainly I will be doing good things for my body and spirit. We are supposed to get a snow storm tonight and tomorrow which is also a blessing. Colorado has barely had any snow this year, and we really need it. I’m prepared to keep myself busy and warm until it clears or I have to leave for work on Monday.

I have been working a lot on non-fiction articles lately, but am also being called to write picture books again. Picture books can be fun and silly, or educational, however they also can be profound and comment on elements of our world and culture that affect us in deep, intimate ways.

I researched a bunch of picture books that were published in the last couple of years and borrowed them from the library. I love reading as reader, but also as a writer. There are so many lessons on craft on the pages of the books featured above. I have been brought to tears and covered with goosebumps with every title. There is such a captivating relationship between words and pictures that work together to create such a visceral experience.

I will be writing review posts for all of these books soon, but for now, they have been wonderful company on this quiet, reflective Saturday. I am hoping they inspire me to get more of my own words on the page.

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Revelation and Inspiration

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I’m still pretty tired. It’s amazing how being back at school is taking it out of me. I haven’t been sleeping very soundly the last couple of days either and that probably has a bunch to do with it too. It’s crazy how easily I can slip back into my old ways of staying up way to late. I had a major power struggle with a student today, which was a bit exhausting as well. It wasn’t a power struggle, per se, because I was very consistent and would not budge with it. I am very stubborn and it actually served me well today. I was calm and firm. It was hard to hold my ground, but he was looking for an inch of wiggle room and I never would have got that authority back. I love him. He is bright and I enjoy working with him every day but he challenges me almost everyday as well. I think the is on the Autism spectrum and he is being observed this month. I am grateful for him because he makes me a better teacher. We are learning from each other.

On a nicer note, two of my 5th grade students finished my book over the Winter Break. One of them saw me in the hallway today before our group and stopped to give me a hug and tell me she had completed it over break. She struggles with reading, but she works hard to improve. She was so happy to talk to me about the book and she asked me when she could read another one of my books because it was so interesting. I said, “Well, I’m still writing it…”

She said, “You better get busy! I want to read it soon!”

That is inspiration and a lot of pressure 🙂

I told her how proud I was of her for finishing it and doing such an amazing job. It was the biggest book she has ever read and she read it in less than two weeks. It was above her reading level and she really pushed herself. She had a huge grin on her face and I knew she felt my pride and excitement for her awesome accomplishment.

I haven’t been writing. I think about it all the time, but I haven’t even tried to write anything other than journaling or Morning Pages in months. Having the students enjoy my book so much and be excited to read what’s next has been a revelation and inspiration to get off my duff and just try to get some words down. I have had little spurts of inspiration with these WIP’s, but mainly a lot of one step forward two steps back.

I resolved to write more again anyway, so time is of the essence!

What inspires you to keep writing and persevering when writing gets tough?

I know I will see that student’s grin in my head from now on when I sit down to write.

In a Flash

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I’m sorry to be posting late but I was busy scrambling to write a flash fiction story last night for the NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge. Flash Fiction is short fiction, anything under 1,000 words. Some contests only allow fiction that is 55 words. Flash Fiction is tricky, but fun to try. It makes you think twice about every word choice because you have a limited amount of space to tell your story. One of the first short stories I was ever proud of sprung from a Flash Fiction exercise in college. We could only use 500 words. It wasn’t much to brag about in the first draft, but it led me to a great story.

One of the most famous flash fiction stories was written by Ernest Hemingway and it is only six words, but those six words are potent and powerful.

For sale: baby shoes, never worn.

One of the best books I’ve read in the last year was an anthology of six-word teen memoirs from Smith magazine. You can check out a bunch of funny, devastating and amazing memoirs here.

The NYC Midnight competition  groups all the contestants and each writer is given a genre, a location and an object. My genre was open, my location was a butcher shop and my item was a block of ice. At first I was excited that I could write in any genre I wanted, but as I was trying to think of a story, I started to wish I had some more parameters.

As someone who was a vegetarian for many years, I wasn’t stoked to write about a butcher shop. However, after a couple of hours of research I found myself grounded in a particular character, but I still didn’t know what his story was. Then I started writing dialogue where this character recognizes a woman in his shop as the girl who killed his father decades before.

I love when that happens. I often doubt that another idea will show up for me to write, but what I learned again last night is that the ideas always appear if I am connected and committed to the process.

There will be another round of the contest in late September. I’ll be given a new genre, location and item to write about. I almost decided not to participate. I’m glad I changed my mind 🙂

If you haven’t ever tried flash fiction, give it a try. You might be inspired and intrigued with what you come up with.

Filling the Well

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Inspiration is everywhere.

This is true if we are willing to be observant and listen. Listen to the world around us. Listen to  ourselves. I’ve been outlining a new story that is based on a snippet of conversation I overheard in a hospital waiting room two years ago. I have embellished it and changed most of the elements, but that first nugget of an interesting idea came from eavesdropping.

Right now, I’m finding inspiration in a handful of books that I’m reading as well. I’ve blogged about this before, but reading great writing inspires me to want to write more and write better. I’ve never really been someone who read multiple books at once, but I’m enjoying three different books right now. They are diverse stories and I’m being inspired by them all.

Julia Cameron writes of “Filing the Well”. She believes that writing morning pages, walking and going on artist dates helps to fill the creative well within us that allows us to access ideas and create. I think this is a wonderful way to actively engage in being inspired.

I’m hoping to go to a local music showcase next week and I know that will lead to inspiration as well.

Inspiration is everywhere. We just have to open our eyes and hearts.

Looking for Inspiration

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So in my last post I wrote about needing something fun to write about to get me back in the swing of things. I started to outline a new story, but even that might be biting off more than I can chew. I think concentrating on some small scenes or short stories would be best right now.

I have been toying with the idea of using a tarot deck for inspiration for a while. I found some interesting ideas here. I think that this might be fun and a great way to get some non-serious writing in every day.  I also like the idea of working with greek myths or fairy tales…

I’m going to start with Tarot and see how that goes. I will be working on small stories each day this week. I’ll post something on Thursday if I come up with something good.

Be A Channel

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I have had the song What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye in my head all day today. I recently say a playlist segment on Nightline with Smoky Robinson and he was talking about how when Marvin was recording this album, he told him that he wasn’t writing it, that God was. Smoky talked about how the music from this album is even more relevant today and I have to agree. Maybe Marvin was right. Maybe he was channeling something bigger than himself, something so universal that it would still be poignant all these years later.

Julia Cameron, who has written many wonderful books on creativity, speaks of being an open channel as an artist. Puccini felt that Madame Butterfly was dictated to him by God. Robert Jackson said of his music, “Once I realized it wasn’t ‘my music’, once I realized I was essentially a straw, I began to play very beautiful music – but it’s not ‘mine’ it’s God’s.”

Art opens the door to inspiration. Art open the door to the divine. The act of creating something is a spiritual act. Julia Cameron has a sign at her desk that reads, “Ok, Universe. You take care of the quality. I’ll take care of the quantity.” As she says, when she writes, she lets God or the Great Author work through her. She is a channel.

I have often had these channel experiences as a songwriter, but not in a really long time. For the first time in over a year – I was a channel again yesterday. It felt so good to be overcome by inspiration and know that I was being led to exact right words and the perfect phrase. The lyrics are universal and personal. I needed to express a piece of my soul, but didn’t know how. I was open to the images and words as they came through.

I have been wanting to break out of this block with my writing and I think focusing on being a channel will get my ego out of the way and let the divine step in. If it worked for Marvin Gaye and Julia Cameron, then it just might work for me too.

Great Advice

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I was lucky enough to get a link to this incredible artist’s website from one of my best friends this weekend. It couldn’t have come at a better time. I needed all of this advice in a big way. Reading it opened something up in me and I’ve been flooded with inspiration all day. I LOVE his black out newspaper poems. They are brilliant and such a wonderful idea.

Austin tells us ten things that nobody ever told him – some are simple truths, but that doesn’t lessen their impact. Sometimes the simple truths are the things we need reminded of.  I especially needed to hear these truths:

Don’t wait until you know who you are to make things – It’s easy to get paralyzed by always waiting until you know more. The reality is that as Austin points out, “It’s in the act of making things that we figure out who we are.”

Write what you like – This is wonderful advice. We’re told as beginning writers to write what we know, but that can be so boring and limiting. We have access to unlimited resources with our imagination, if we’re writing what we like we can bring so much more to the table.

Be boring. It’s the only way to get work done – I really needed to hear this. I build up my to-do lists every day and often try to be too much for too many…at the end of the day it’s hard to get much of my own art done. I’m definitely needing to focus on being boring 🙂

Do yourself a favor and see Austin’s post here. This is too great to keep to myself.