Read. Listen. Write. Repeat. Finding Inspiration in Others' Work
July 22, 2015
Whenever I'm in a really productive writing groove, I surround myself with inspirational creative outputs from others. I've been on a Jason Mraz kick for music, and sometimes going back to my old writing soundtrack with work from Aimee Mann. I seek out books that inspire me. Today I was amped to discover and buy a novel, The Invisible Bridge, by Julie Orringer, whose short story collection, How to Breathe Underwater, greatly impacted me when I was writing my graduate thesis. I re-read things that have moved me—Anne of Green Gables and several of the other books in that series, drawing inspiration from Lucy Maud Montgomery's beautiful setting descriptions and well drawn characters, with warts and all.
Creative collaboration and the work of peers, even in different modes or genres, fuels a creative spirit. The illusion is that writers dwell in garrets and live in imagined worlds all by our lonesome. But writing is about communication, and that requires at least two parties be involved. Preparing an application for a teaching position, after being away from teaching at the college or university level since 2008, I sifted through old student evaluations. The most rewarding bits I found were when students appreciated my interest in their learning and stated that the course improved their writing ability. Today I'm feeling grateful for all of the sparks of inspiration in life—the creative works of others, growth in students, little nuggets of everyday life that ignite the imagination. Thank you, wide world, for all you enable us to share.