Looking for Inspiration?
We know what we are, but know not what we may be. -- William Shakespeare
The real question is not just where people find inspiration to write but what compelled them to write in he first place. Why anyone wants to write? I believe that for a writer tolerance for loneliness is a must, as is a tolerance for risk. Getting started as a novelist means being isolated for long periods of time, as well as accepting a potential level of rejection that can be crushing. So, back to the question: why do people write? It is a vital question to ask for it’s correct answer holds the clue to how to find inspiration to write well.
We need storytellers. In our world of dislocation, of declining institutions, it is imperative that the values that bind us together be reaffirmed. One of the primary ways we do this, I believe, is through the stories that we tell to one another. People have done this for generations to pass their culture, traditions and values to protect the future. I undertook writing not because I wanted to, but because I felt I ought to. Not very logical but nonetheless compelling!
Writers are awed by the sense of freedom and they are humbled by the responsibility, for writing is not just composing a story, it is an act of faith in one's stories. It is saying, “My writing speaks.”
Writing is, I am discovering, the most exciting, absorbing, and fulfilling way I have ever spent my time. There is joy in a well-crafted sentence. There is satisfaction in a tautly written scene. There is curiosity in an intrigue. And when all the words are strung together, all the chapters in order, and when I have written a novel I hope that it says something worthwhile about the human condition.
Me? 1 love writing, it is my meditation. And as a writer, I find people interesting and excitement in life. I feel compassionate toward characters nobody else could love like I do. I feel a sense of story, of the patterns that give meaning to our lives. Best of all, I crave for the ability to draw readers into detailed, absorbing worlds built entirely of words.
So, what inspires me? To help understand, it is useful to think back to the hierarchy of human needs postulated by psychologist Abraham Maslow. Maslow stated that human beings need, in order, food, shelter, sex, self-esteem, self-actualization. Let’s skip the first three for we all spend most of our lives chasing them. Besides, I believe they are self-explanatory, I hope. The fourth, self-esteem, means valuing oneself and being valued by others. Today, self-help bookshelves are full of material and there are plenty of life gurus who relentlessly promote self-esteem.
It is the Fifth, self-actualization that is intriguing and less known. What it means is going beyond oneself: being creative, finding joy in learning and discovery, becoming altruistic, loving all humanity. Woven in the fabric of all this is multitude of inspiration just waiting to be discovered.
But that is only one side of the motivation coin. Most everyone who writes sooner or later discovers the pleasure inherent in the process. There is something indescribably wonderful about getting the words right. Finding a side to one’s hero that one did not know existed is a singular joy. A funny line can make one burst out laughing. Killing a beloved character can make one cry.
There is more than grubby ego gratification here. In the pure, joyful time spent in the world of one’s current novel, there can be discovery and surrender of oneself in service of the story. It can be a release from self. That is writing for it’s own sake
So, I believe there are two prevalent reasons that people write novels: (a) for the approval of others and (b) for the sake of writing itself. Nobody does it for either reason alone. There are easier ways to get approval, and the novelists who works in isolation, never publishing, is not a true novelist but a hobbyist. Novels ultimately need readers. They are a two-way transaction.
What is more important than any of this, though, are some qualities that anyone might have. Perseverance is a big one. A first novel can take years to build; a career can take decades. Attention to detail, the willingness to revise, and the habit of breaking large tasks into smaller pieces are also useful abilities. Novelists tend to be intelligent and analytical, although the writing process itself is highly intuitive and requires going into a sort of waking dream state.
So, I hope you too now feel compelled to write and join me in this exciting world of words. There is nothing like it. Join me on this journey of adventure and let us explore together the mysteries of the universe hidden in the fascinating stories of the humans.