On Inspiration

Gatsbyquote

As writers we find inspiration in all sorts of places. From our dreams. From situations we face or faced in real life. From eavesdropping on conversations (come on, you do it too). From newspaper articles. Sometimes when you least expect it. Often when you’re not looking. Occasionally when you’re scrambling to find a pen to write it down before it disappears.

I used to think I was no good at conjuring up new ideas. I once complained to my mom that I wasn’t an “idea person.” I felt stunted and not the least bit creative. Now I know differently. I was just waiting, expecting a brilliant notion to smack me in the head, and it wasn’t going to happen that way. Now I know that ideas will only come if you’re open to finding inspiration anywhere and everywhere. And once you open the door to inspiration, it makes itself at home. You’re not going to get anywhere just waiting for something to happen. Inspiration won’t just come and knock– you have to let it in. It’s the same with writing and everything else in life.

This quote is one of my all-time favorites, from one of my all-time favorite books, The Great Gatsby.

They were a satisfactory hint of the unreality of reality, a promise that the rock of the world was founded securely on a fairy’s wing.

I guess it could mean a lot of different things. To me it means that the world is full of layers. What you see on the surface gives way to so many other dimensions, if you know where to look and trust yourself to look there. On the bottom, holding everything up like a shelf, is imagination. Whimsy. Creativity. And inspiration. Everything that we seek as writers, everything we need to bring stories to life. Sometimes it’s buried underneath day jobs, bills to pay, morning traffic, monotony. Sometimes the minutiae of everyday life. It’s easy for inspiration to be covered in all that other stuff. But as writers, our job is to peel away the layers and go there.

And once we do, we always know how to find our way back.

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