Inspiration, to me, comes in many forms. It’s Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor. It’s J.K. Rowling and Pablo Picasso and Stephen King. It’s my grandparents, my mom and my dad.
For a blissful moment, all is silent. And then, as if the harpies of Hades have decided to torment the frustrated writer just a little bit longer, there is a scurry of nails. And another, until a full on squirrel orgy/disco/gladiator match is in swing in the rafters above my head.
My family has taught me how to fight for the right to create, how to make it the most important thing in your day and your life.
They have shown me that there is no direct route and how to forge my own.
Because my family doesn’t just put up with my writing, as they were forced to do all those years ago in Asbury Park. They are an invaluable aid in finding the very best story, character or setting possible.
I have been given a lot of advice.
And while a great deal of it has been good (and, naturally, a great deal has been truly terrible as well,) nothing has yet come to claim the crown as these simple words from my grandfather.
That’s how much family communicates. We talk in punchlines, puns and Marx Brothers quotes. Banter and witty repartee is the local dialect, combined with the ever-ubiquitous off-color joke or two and references to childhood stories that may or may not be true.
To speak to an uncomfortable truth, I often don’t trust my own memory.
The greatest joke I ever told was when we got Houdini. He was six weeks old, a floppy white and brown mutt, the last in his litter to come up from the southern kill shelters, and unable to stand on his four, wobbly legs without going full spread starfish like Bambi on the ice.
Being easily distracted also means I’m easily inspired, and many of those conversations and animals have inspired elements in stories past and undoubtedly will in the future.
But when I don’t need inspiration, but instead need motivation, a drive to push through my morning to do list, I shut the doors to my office tight.
And for good reason.
When it comes to titles, I am all or none. Some days, the blessed title deities generously bequeath the perfect name for my current work in progress, simply out of the kindness of their hearts. Other days, the well runs dry, the ground cracks below my feet, and I beg for the simplest drop of inspiration, but none is to be found.