OMI perch for quite some time, trying to sort out my feelings about inspiration. It's complicated.
My mother always wanted to write. She tried and faltered a few times, then finally gave in to the demands of three wild and headstrong children, a husband who was both brilliant and flawed, and times that changed like no other until 9/11. When she died in an accident in the 1970s, part of me wanted to continue what was best about her, and so I tinkered with writing--even became a technical writer, a blending of my father's electrical engineering world and my mother's appreciation for the written word. She wrote all his English papers in college, so the family history goes.
You could say that my mother's life inspired me to take the risks she was unable to.
Later, my work in technical writing and screenplays made me wonder if inspiration is real, or just a fancy word for a set of chemical interactions in the brain, the wicked mating of synapses as ideas collide, more or less at random. I'm not sure I believe this, but I'm not sure I don't, either.
I do know that getting away out into the desert, or deep in a new city with other writer friends juices up my brain. Is that inspiration, or the writer's version of runner's high?
You see, technical writers don't get writer's block. We show up to work every day, we write the best words we can, we edit and reconfigure, structure, inquire, test, explore, rewrite, and rewrite again. There isn't a publisher in New York City as brutal as some subject-matter experts who review technical documentation--we sort the valid comments from the, um, uninformed ones and keep going, because if we don't our customers might have a hard time. We fight for them every day.
Screenwriters, most of them, don't get blocked either, The Orchid Thief notwithstanding. The studio pays you to bang out a script based on a concept they paid a comic book company several million dollars for.
So do I or don't I believe in inspiration? I believe in influence. I believe that our brains can form connections beyond the logical or physical, and that this is what we call imagination. I believe you can drop into a flow state, a different sort of consciousness that lets you tune out your children, husband and cat in favor of that inner voice.
But if inspiration is something you wait for...nah, I don't believe in that.
See some of you in Bouchercon next week! I'm going early to get the final polish on my novel done. Next time you hear from me, I'll be knee deep in plotting #2 in the Amelia Wells series--a fraud investigator with a chip on her shoulder the size of the Golden Gate Bridge. But more about that next time...