Saturday, January 17, 2009

A Writer's Trio -- Black

From the tailgate window aperture of our Ford Taurus wagon emanated a swishing, crackling sound, as motion-generated air eddies sucked and tugged at the plastic sheeting, secured by hockey tape, which I’d applied to keep out the sub-zero air. My wife May and I were on our way to an auto-glass shop located in a neighbouring town.

It was a lovely winter’s day ride–despite the ‘self-peevement’ of the fact that I was responsible for the damage, caused by my backing the car into our weather-stuck garage door, and that we would be paying the eight hundred bucks or more out-of-pocket, rather than lose premium no-claim insurance status (you know how it is, when you’ve got a five hundred dollar deductible, anyway).

Ice-fog hung in the morning air, allowing only the ghost of a wintry sun to highlight the hoar frost adorning everything–hardwoods, evergreens, ditch grass, and teasel. Neither were fence posts and wires, and rooftops and barns bypassed by nature’s skilful art. We remarked to each other how gorgeous everything was; that it was the kind of serene, picturesque winter scene that artists and calendar photographers may have to wait long enough to capture.

Certain beautiful things in life occur but rarely, when conditions are just right; often conditions over which we have no control. Yet we need to be in the ‘right’ place and time to witness them, and in a suitable frame of mind to appreciate them. That’s how it was that day. And that’s how it can be for the writer, poet, songwriter, and even the artist.

Inspiration comes ever so softly, even subtly at times, and in the midst of life’s challenges and frustrations, we can miss the magical moment, or we may be fortunate enough to catch it in a fleeting, breathless moment of wonder. A fickle frame of mind, besides causing inspiration to pass on by, can also cause it to quickly evaporate like the ephemeral thing it is by nature. How often has inspiration alighted like a butterfly on a flower, only to be chased away by a flurry of worry, annoyance, or distraction!

Publishing deadlines–especially for periodicals and newspaper columns–don’t wait for inspiration; and so, what can a writer do when the ‘magic’ just isn’t happening? Raising the gaze helps. Elevating the focus can lead to the moment of inspiration. This can move the mindset from "I’ve got this problem of a deadline; gotta’ have an article in by tomorra’, an’ have no idea where to start," to one’s taking a look out of a window, or an interested scan of a room, or even a thankful trip of a few steps (or many) down memory lane. And voilĂ !–idea and inspiration can happen yet again.

A writer’s trio: Inspiration, Idea, and Interest. Inspiration, I find, usually doesn’t operate in a vacuum, but rather acts as a catalyst in the presence of idea and interest. Ideas occur in the company of interest, and inspiration provides ignition that begins the process for transmuting them into something of potential interest to others–our readers.

Taking an interest in life, in the world around us, in the welfare of others who share our lives and the planet, and in the significance of small things as well as the large, raises our gaze to find the wonderful in the midst of the awful, and the amazing in the midst of the annoying.

Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul. (Psalm 143:8 NIV)

"Parables from the Pond" -- Written for children ... read and enjoyed by all ages."... a classic children’s book that could ... become the next story of choice ..." (Reviewer)ISBN 1897373-21-X


violet said...

Great advice, Peter! Another thing that works for me when I'm out of ideas and inspiration is to simply start writing. More than once ideas have come to me as I'm purging the dull stuff.

Peter Black said...

How true Violet.
Been there with fingers poised over the keys with no clue as to where they'll fall, but some creation has always resulted.

Linda Wegner said...

Your descriptions transported me far beyond the keyboard - hey, who cares about a deadline when I can read soul-stirring meditations like that! But come to think of it, I do have an article due tomorrow and I'm going to check out the dense fog that's blanked us for days. Thanks!

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