Inspiration can come from anywhere. It can come from the way a cloud moves across the sky, reminding you of a puppy chasing it’s mother through the sky, trying to catch up with her. It can come from the way your morning cup of coffee smells, the rich and heady aroma of it rising into your nose and awakening your senses. It can come from the old man you saw on the street who was struggling with his shopping bags and grumbling under his breath about the youth of today.
Inspiration can come from your favorite books, movies, radio-shows and music. You can copy and steal from every written word ever published without anyone being the wiser, because on the way to your finished work you changed everything you meant to steal. Your inspiration can carry you past plain copy-and-paste into the land of borrowing from lyrics, ideas, symbols, and generalized characters. You can decide to copy the tale of Aladdin’s Lamp and end up writing about fog in San-Francisco – and even then you might be positive you stole the whole thing.
Inspiration can be slippery. It can hit you when you’re in the middle of a conversation, when you’re driving, when you’re about to fall asleep – as a result, you’ll lose the ideas, and kick yourself for it. It can also strike you just when the pen is in your hand or your hands are hovering over the keyboard.
Inspiration can be a bitch, and desert you for days at a time.
I am a great and loyal fan of many writers: Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, Tamora Pierce, Jacqueline Carey, Kate Elliot, Libba Bray, Sarah Dessen… the list goes on and on. These are authors who are living and writing and creating today. These are authors whose books I can look forward to, whose careers I can actively follow (what with the wonders of the online community these days). I treat these people with as much reverence as I treat my favorite bands – more so, perhaps, because their fame is often less materially rewarding and their renown is limited to the community who enjoy their particular genre; meaning my respect for them and awe of them grows because of the difficulties they face in pursuing their chosen careers.
I’ve met Neil Gaiman. He was a darling, and managed not to seem the least bit bored during the two signings of his in which I participated. He is an incredible public speaker. He is extremely popular, though, and I have never felt the urge to write to him. So, also, with many other of the authors I love.
I wrote to Jacqueline Carey though. I wrote of my passion for her books and my admiration for both her literary style and her imagination, for her beautifully-wrought characters and her intricate plots. She wrote back. She really did. It was a while after I had written, but she did write back.
Which is why, I suppose, I’ve been struggling for days with trying to find the perfect wording for a second letter – this time to Tamora Pierce. I grew up on her books – I own every single one of them, and there are many, believe me. The smell of the pages of those well-thumbed novels of hers bring back memories from countless instances, and I’ve read and reread her books endlessly. I hope that once I find the words to write to her properly, she’ll respond. I shouldn’t expect it, but I can’t help but hope.
It’s overwhelming, sometimes, to love and admire people with such creative minds and incredible determination. But it’s often inspiring too.