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Writing Inspiration

May 20th, 2010 1 comment

Inspiration for writing can come in many forms. As I’ve written here before, family reunions are great sources of material. In the same vein, so are college (or high school) reunions, where the contrast between ‘then’ and ‘now’ can be surprising. As a writer heading off to a college reunion, I’m looking for lots of inspiration – and plenty of good times…

Just a change of pace or a different location can offer writing inspiration. A day trip to a local landmark or even housesitting for a friend can recharge your batteries and offer subject matter and/or writing ideas.

At present I’m watching an old friend’s home while they’re are out of town – and I am always inspired when I visit, because the house is beautiful and imbued with a sense of Hollywood history. Our host was married for years to a late, well-known actor/director, and the house is still full of his presence. As I move from room to room, legends of Broadway and Hollywood peer at me from the walls, where photos, memorabilia and souvenirs hang in testimony to his life. It’s impressive, moving and tinged with sadness. And a complete source of inspiration to me. It doesn’t hurt that the house was left fully-stocked in anticipation of our stay… That’s simply Beverly Hills hospitality!

Speaking of ‘fully-stocked,’ a lot of other writers have found their inspiration from other means – specifically, alcohol. A quick scan through a list of notable writers and Nobel laureates yields numerous notable alcoholics, as I discovered some years ago while researching a book about the liquor industry. William Faulkner and Dylan Thomas were famously alcoholic, as was Dashiell Hammett; Nobel literature prize winners include the hard-drinking Ernest Hemingway and John Steinbeck, among others.  And Edgar Allan Poe died drinking… like Dylan Thomas.

Still others follow DuPont’s slogan and look for “Better Living Through Chemistry.” This bunch includes the late gonzo writer Hunter S. Thompson and the esteemed counter-culture figure William S. Burroughs, along with Jack Kerouac, Aldous Huxley and Philip K. Dick. It makes one wonder – were they inspired? Or merely altered? The quality of their writing says one thing, the originality of their ideas another.

As for me, I tend to draw inspiration from what is nearest and dearest. Relationships with loved ones and friends, interests I have fostered, and the best inspiration of all (at least for practical purposes): money. My wife’s grandfather, a prolific pulp-fiction author himself, had this to say about writing: “It’s a wonderful thing to be a writer. But to be paid to write? That’s a miracle.”

Miracle, indeed. Now go out there, get inspired… and create miracles!