It’s October. For me, that means I’m taking a hiatus from writing fiction while I work on a project I write annually for our local business journal. It’s hard for me to take a step back from my fiction at this time of year, however, because this work project always inspires me. When I’m inspired, my creativity soars and I usually write my best fiction. So that got me thinking about what inspires writers and what keeps writers motivated when they’re crafting a manuscript and then fine-tuning their words through the revision process.
Inspiration comes in many forms. Nature’s beauty has been known to take my breath away on more than one occasion. When I see thousands of tiny lights fill the darkness as synchronous fireflies blink in perfect unison within the Great Smoky Mountains, I am in awe. The first time I visited the Atlantic Ocean, I felt, for the first time, my unborn child stir within me. It was Mother’s Day weekend and his movement, ever so subtle and slight, triggered a breadth of emotions that equaled the size and power of the sea before me. Whenever I’m in the woods, away from the brightness and chaos that comes from living in the city, and I can see the stars – truly see them against the blackness of the night sky – I am overcome with a sense of smallness that gives way to complete calm and peace.
Music also inspires me. The delicacy of Claude Debussy’s “Clair de lune” and Yiruma’s “River Flows in You” makes the world stand still around me. Whenever I hear U2, REM, Journey or Aerosmith on the radio, I remember my teenage self in all of my awkward, care-free, emotional glory. Whenever I hear Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World,” I’m giddy with optimism about the future. Sometimes the lyrics of a song will make my heart swell. Other times it’s the melody or rhythm of the tune that speaks to me. During some magical moments, it’s a combination of the two.
And, of course, people inspire me. This is the 10th year I have interviewed 40 people under the age of 40 who are working to strengthen my community and make it a better place to live and work. Over the years, these amazing people have shared their stories with me so that I can share them with others. They have varied in profession – from those you would expect, like scientists, educators and entrepreneurs, to perhaps some you might not anticipate, such as a dairy farmer, an executive chef and a zoo curator known worldwide for successfully breeding Madagascar flat-tailed tortoises. They have included creative souls, activists, public servants, philanthropists and innovators. Despite their unique career paths, they share in the fact that they serve as an inspiration to others, particularly me.
There are other things that move me, of course. Too many to mention here. So I take comfort in knowing that when my work load eases and I can once again dedicate my writing hours to my unfinished manuscript, the words will be ready to flow onto the page. Here’s to hoping my fingers can type fast enough.