Wednesday, May 3, 2023



Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

The awesome co-hosts for the May 3 posting of the IWSG are Joylene Nowell Butler, Ronel Janse van Vuuren, Meka James, Diane Burton, Victoria Marie Lees, and M Louise Barbour!

May 3 question - When you are working on a story, what inspires you?

Words inspire me, so I looked up the word inspire, or rather its etymological beginnings. I did know but I wanted confirmation. I knew that to conspire meant at its root 'to breath together with another or others'. I knew that 'spire' was a root word meaning spirit, or what animates the biological form. That a scientist of a literal bent would say 'to inspire is to breath in'. When we are inspired it is thought we have breathed in some feeling or thinking that the gods wish us to have. I am not a believer in gods so what do I think I'm doing trying to tickle the muse into releasing some of her or his ideas into the waiting vessel of my (empty?) mind? I do not know. But what I do know is that inspiration can be invited by discipline (the boys in the basement are waiting for you to show up says Stephen King), by honing my craft so when the spirit enters me I'll know what to do with it, and by holding the space ready for lightening, inspiration, gods, the fairies, to strike me. 
Sometimes I'm inspired by great grief, or overwhelming rage, or a sudden burst of empathy and love. All can ignite the bits of dried leaves, twigs and old poems on dry paper I've gathered - but I must tend the flame that ensues. I can't just leave it up to that one strike, that one inward breath. No. I must poke at it, apply more fuel, bits of wood, logs, branches, old cereal boxes, yesterday's manuscript. I must blow gently to get it going and sometimes to keep it going. In this metaphor I must be the tinder, the kindling, the match, the striking surface, the hand that holds and strikes the match, the flame that catches what has been prepared, the roaring fire, the smoldering wet branches, and the glowing coals. All of it. 

What inspires you?


Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Beautifully put, Jan! I like the idea of poking the flames.

Liza said...

Emotion definitely inspires me. Grief, for sure. Anger, definitely. Loss, yep. I think I am also inspired by unanswered questions. My own past inspires me, too. As for day-to-day writing, my own improving stories inspire me to keep on. Hope you are well, Jan!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

To breathe in - interesting!

Natalie Aguirre said...

That's great that you can be inspired by grief. I wish I could get inspiration from it. I learn from going through the process, but it hasn't inspired my writing.

Meka James said...

Being inspired by grief was something I've used twice. For my debut novel because the woman who was the driving force behind me starting that book died suddenly and I wanted to complete it for her. And a second time when I was working through my grief after losing my aunt.

Jan Morrison said...

Thanks Elizabeth! This morning I was considering what dampens that flame - for me it is envy and resentment - my bêtes noir.
Liza - I like that idea of being inspired by our moving forward. I can use that today. Hope you are doing well too.
Alex - yes, so much fun to look at the early origins of words.
Natalie, I think the grief must be well composted if I can mix my metaphors. Not too raw. My book The Crooked Knife was definitely ignited by fury, the one I'm writing now - Butter and Snow is mostly sorrow driven.
Meka - yes, for sure the grief we feel at an important person's loss can help us get through the rigor of writing out a long piece like a novel.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

The part about the fire was wonderful! Especially "old poems on dry paper", "old cereal boxes, yesterday's manuscript." :)

Margot Kinberg said...

You express this so well, Jan! Like you, I'm sometimes inspired by a powerful emotion. Sometimes it's an experience I have, or even a visceral reaction to something. You really capture all of that here.

Romance Book Haven said...

Awesome. Inspiration is always all around us. Great post!