Friday, March 11, 2011

Life: An Invitation to Inspiration

Hi all! Time for another installment of GPF. Jenna's blog doesn't have a huge following yet, despite the fact that she's incredibly sweet, so please go head over and say hi! :-) 

But let me stop talking. You're here to read Jenna's words, not mine...

Life: An Invitation to Inspiration

When you think of inspiration, what words come to mind? Do you think of toga-draped muses? Do you imagine of light bulbs flashing overhead? Do you picture a cozy coffeehouse corner? A mountain-top refuge? A riverside walk? Do you see scrap paper covered in squiggles, word lists and charts?

I think it’s different for all of us. I’m still figuring it out, but I find a lot of inspiration in everyday life.

Most of us don’t think of death and sickness as inspiring. Yet my first published magazine story had as its source the extraordinary final days of my grandfather. Few elements were changed and it wavered between fiction and fact. I gave the first draft to my mother on the one-year anniversary of his passing and then decided to try to sell it as part of my grieving/healing process. Not only did it sell, but I started learning a precious lesson on where I get my good ideas.

Since then, I have published stories about a true encounter with a moose on a hike and a benefit concert where kids raised 10,000 dollars. Somehow, my sci-fi story didn’t sell, neither did my Greek siren story. I wondered, “Is it because they really are things I imagined? Do they lack the emotion and texture of reality?”

I embarked on a middle grade fantasy and finished a first draft. But I was so uninspired! It wasn’t working. I felt like I was writing about a place to which I had never been and about people whom I had never met. I persevered and did a second draft. Nothing. No magic. I decided to change the story to be more about the things I know. It’s in the things that are ordinary, that I find the will to work and the words to write. The book is still in the rewrite process, but, as the French say, it speaks to me.

Opening my eyes and ears while doing something habitual, like riding the bus, talking to a friend or watching a movie is inspiration. Trying a new cuisine, reading a book on a subject of which I was ignorant or meeting a new couple and hearing the story of how they met is inspiration.

What stimulates you and brings ideas to the surface? Do you have life stories that you haven’t yet written?

Thanks Jenna!

Anyone who is still interested in posting here, you better jump quick. I'm booked until the middle of June. Contact me at (mishagericke(AT)gmail(DOT)com) if you want to book a slot.


  1. Jenna, you're so right to say that some life events, which may appear daunting, are actually our biggest inspirations. That's possibly because it's during those intense times we feel the deepest...and deep emotion is the lifeblood of a writer.
    Judy (South Africa)

  2. This was a great post! I'll definitely need to take a better look at my inspiration in life. A great guest post, yet again, Misha!

  3. Reading inspires me. I read while I walk on my treadmill every morning and the combination of reading and the adrenaline really helps me come up with some great ideas.

  4. Great post, Jenna! I think you have to take what of life that inspires you and put it into your writing. Even in a completely fictional story with dragons and aliens and such, you have to have real emotions there. Otherwise, it won't work.

  5. Thanks again, Misha! I agree, Stephanie - reading is great inspiration. I have a friend who used to read while walking thirty minutes to work in Bolivia. When she came to France, she had to stop doing that - crazy French drivers!

  6. Awesome post, Jenna! Inspiration is so important. It give us the energy to sit down at our computers everyday. Like you, I'm inspired by the things around me. It might be a saying or how someone moves or the pleasure of taking a walk and discovering something new. Sometimes, it's the little things that turn into big ideas.

  7. Thanks for this great post, Jenna and Misha. Life is the biggest inspiration for all of us. Reading too inspires me.

  8. Hi Jenna!

    You are so right about life being the best inspiration. It brings out the deepest part of ourselves.

  9. Oh, I've got plenty of fascinating life stories that would, no doubt, thrill the heck out of everyone. Then again, my co-writer on my shy and humble site, Penny the Jack Russell dog and modest internet star, has some great experiences she wishes to 'pawblish' :)
    Oh yes, I shall check out Jenna's site :) Always good to check out other writers.
    Have a good weekend eh...

  10. Life is a great inspiration. Great post. Another great Guest Blog, Misha. Happy Friday.

  11. When you write from an emotional level, you're revealing your true self and, I think, that's usually the most inspiring writing.

  12. I find my inspiration in many different ways, but largely it comes from people, what they're like, and how they interact with eachother. Thanks Jenna - I'm off to check out your blog now.

    Hi Misha - *waves*

  13. So true, Judy. We couldn't write if we didn't work with the deep emotions evoked within us.

    Thanks Devin!

    Stephanie, that's an interesting idea. Might be worth a shot. :-)

    Very true, Cherie. Emotions displayed in a story can make or break it. Too bad that not a lot of people think about it. :-)

    Pleasure, Jenna. Still think you guys haven't seen crazy tranport until you have seen a South African taxi in action. ;-)

    E.C. I do that too. :-)

    Thanks Rachna. I'm glad you enjoyed it. :-)

    Well said, Maria. :-)

    Hope you had a great weekend, Gary. Would love to read Penny's story. ;-)

    Thanks Ciara. :-D

    So true, Liz.

    Hi Tony! ;-)


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