Sometimes inspiration hides out in the wide, wide open of life. Ideas can move to the front of the thought line at any time, whether I’m kicking acorns or folding egg whites into batter. The more I engage in any aspect of life, the more it seems that my mind is another person rich with new insights to share. Thought patterns and words can be as elusive as firefly light, but when the right ones strike, I’m thrown into a frantic search for paper and pen. My notepaper reflects whatever activity that engaged me when the inspiration visited. Sometimes the pages are smeared with garden dirt, splotched with water drops from hastily washed hands, or tinted with just a guilty little chocolate smudge, but who cares as long as the “just right” words get captured?
I’m always mining the hiding places of inspiration. Once, unable to sleep because a thorny descriptive passage wouldn’t read like music, I walked out onto the front porch just as soft light signaled dawn. There, with a clear view of the eastern sky, I could hear the needed words.
“What if?” is a magical question which has helped develop my own writing voice, my writing “fingerprint” which is really just a reflection of how I view the world. Questions I sometimes get are “How did you think of that? What made you come up with that idea?” Answers and solutions which seem logical to me come in ways which are simple and natural. Several people have asked for the paint color of our blue-gray-green front porch floor. It’s custom paint mixed to match a pile of leaves, in stages of development, which I dumped on the paint store counter. Ray, the owner, knows me by now. He threw up his hands and pointed me to the back where he let me mix my own color. It was easier for both of us this way. I’m just saying that answers are everywhere in life and in writing. You just have to think, “What if…?”
Another unexpected way to give special flavor to my expression has come through the study of other languages. To be truly fluent, to capture the nuances that natives of a country use, we have to “think” in the other language rather than translate verbatim. This requires study, but yields thrilling results when you start to dream in French or Spanish, for instance, or effortlessly punctuate your native language with words and expressions from another.
To be a writer is to be a dreamer – and a brave one at that. Write the world as you see it, as it thrills you, as it breaks your heart. Write what you want your children to know; season your words with the sweet and savory of your life; help them know that there is a tall tree waiting within every acorn.