Where does inspiration come from? I wonder about this as I notice an idea energize me or a string of words in my head turn into a poem. Often I feel something stirring inside my stomach – like the whirling of a small ball of energy . If I pay attention to it, it often lets me know there is something brewing that I need to bring to the fore. When I wrote my novel Rosie’s Blues, the inspiration came from a woman I saw on the streets many years prior. Her appearance struck me because she was dressed in all white. I was captivated by the way she walked slowly down the street, clearly in distress, yet almost ghostly in her appearance. I never forgot her and ten years later she became the voice for the protagonist in my novel. She stirred something inside me and that is currently one of the ways I understand inspiration.
I’m also aware that I am often moved to write when I’m feeling something so strongly that I can’t quite contain it – when my physical body needs to release a feeling into the world in order for it to leave me. I’ve told people that writing my novel, which was inspired by events in my life experience, was an exorcism of sorts – “I had to get it out of me.”
Then there is the coveted experience of divine inspiration. We’ve all heard stories of people who’ve had a dream and wake up with the answer to a problem they’ve been grappling with, who hear a musical score they later compose, who receive a message of something they are to create in the world. Wikipedia defines this as “the concept of a supernatural force, typically a deity, causing a person or people to experience creative desire.” One definition in Dictionary.com is “inspiration endowed by God upon a spiritually gifted person.” The third definition listed in Free Dictionary.com says it’s “a sudden insight or idea.”
This spectrum of ideas on how inspiration is understood makes me wonder: Is all inspiration created equal or is there a hierarchy of inspiration? Is all inspiration funded from the same wellspring or are there many different sources from which we receive the gift? I’m going to put these questions on a beautifully decorated shelf in my consciousness – next to blooming orchids, fragrant candles and glass bowls of fresh water while I remain deeply appreciative for any gift that comes my way in the form of inspiration.