Finding Inspiration in Your Own Words

My Parents, 1948 A Short Marriage. Six Children. Enviable Love.

My Parents, 1948
A Short Marriage. Six Children. Enviable Love.

Do you have a novel inside you? Is it screaming to get out? Are you desperate to share it with the world?

I have a novel rattling around in my head, actually more than one, but one in particular. This novel has been taunting me to write it for at least five years. The problem is, as it always is, to carve out enough time to write it and do it justice. Allow me to share it with you.

The story theme: “Love after loss.” The story premise: If you lose your spouse prematurely (and you had a great marriage) can you ever love again? In the same way? With the same depth? How do you fill that emotional Black Hole? What would you unknowingly compromise? What would you always hold in reserve for your first love? And if or when you dare to love again how do you avoid the comparison trap or the guilt trap? The working title: “To Love Again.” The opening lines: Is anyone ever the same after they lose someone they love? I mean, really the same.

This will be a work of fiction although it parallels my father’s life. He lost his wife, my mother, prematurely and he raised six young children alone. In his case, he never gave himself permission to “love again.” I want to delve into this deep emotional struggle after a debilitating loss.

Why am I sharing this with you?

Well, because as writers, we’re always looking for inspiration. And while we often find it in others or in their work, sometimes we find inspiration in ourselves—in our lives—and in our words. For example, I have been writing this novel in my head for years, yet I don’t have much on paper. Yesterday, while I was writing in my journal I was struck with a thought that crystalized why I must write this story. Here are the words that came to me:

“My father loved my mother with his whole heart, lost her to cancer, raised six children alone, and for 40 years not a day went by that he didn’t think of her. That deserves a book! And I’m going to write it.”

After I recorded these words in my journal, I read and them over and over again. And while they are not a revelation to me, they inspire me because they speak to the intense sentiment that resides in my soul. My point? Sometimes inspiration strikes not from the outside, but from the inside. Inspiration often comes not as a lightning bolt, but as a shaft of light that gently shines on a singular area of our life that deserves more light, more insight, more reflection or introspection.

And this light can uncover or rediscover a rich life lesson. Yes, we can draw inspiration for our writing from many sources, but sometimes we find inspiration in our own words. So, don’t forget to look within.

What have you written that inspires you to keep writing?

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Published in: on March 30, 2016 at 9:02 pm  Comments (2)  

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  1. So, I’m sitting at my desk grinding out my fourth novel and thinking about what inspires me. I can’t bring up anything like you have. I guess I enjoy the challenge. I enjoy doing the hard work to, as Hemingway said after being asked why he rewrote IN OUR TIME twenty nine times (on and Underwood, no less) “get the words right.”

    Before I got published and sold a bunch of book, I kept at it because I was a) stubborn and wanted to prove everyone wrong; b) naive. Had I known how hard it is, I probably wouldn’t have gone for it.

    But Jim is right. You need something to get you started and keep you going. For me, it’s the challenge.

    Bill Andrews
    Author of DAUGHTERS OF THE DRAGON – A Comfort Woman’s Story

  2. I remind myself of my first published books. I’d joked that I’d rather write than breathe. As I worked on writing and editing and editing and editing, I discovered I was willing to give up social events, television, reading, eating, and sleep, everything except breathing. I needed to breathe to write. During bouts of depression, I’d remind myself that no one else would tell my stories, so if I wanted them told I had to do it.


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