On Inspiration…and why everything truly is copy!

I never kept diaries as a kid, and even today, as a devout scribbler, I find that the most trying times are the ones that are difficult to write down, in that moment, anyway. So it often becomes a shorthand of blunt sentences, enough to revisit when the crisis is over. Enough to jolt the memory, or for inspirational purposes, to fire the imagination; representing the real, I like to call it!

There are people however, some who don’t even consider themselves to be writers, who do manage to record their experiences in intricate detail, however traumatic, putting pen to paper at every point of their journey, until coming out at the other side of it. Talking to a female acquaintance recently on a rather difficult experience she had gone through, she told me that she would not have remembered or been able to describe what happened to her so vividly, had she not been writing it down as she experienced it. It was important for her to remember; to have it recorded for the future.

“You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better.”

So wrote Anne Lamott. An accomplished writer, her non-fiction work is greatly influenced by her own struggles, her writing best described by the author herself;  “I try to write the books I would love to come upon, that are honest, concerned with real lives, human hearts, spiritual transformation, families, secrets, wonder, craziness—and that can make me laugh.” I posted Lamott’s quote on my Facebook page a while back, and a writer friend responded with another quote, from the late and great, Nora Ephron:

“Everything is copy.”

In the introduction to her novel, Heartburn (based on her personal experience of a marriage break-up) the wonderful Ephron elaborated further when she wrote of becoming the hero, rather than the victim of the joke. I am sure that many of us can identify with the sentiment? Not that I advocate dusting down tomes of snotty, tear-stained journals of youth and regurgitating a narrative of some exquisitely nostalgic pain-ridden experience. Nor indeed, some vengeful tale of ridicule to spite the target of your blame – though, it has to be said that all is fair in the land of fiction – so whatever floats your boat!

Recorded on paper or not, with distance, time-passing and maturity, and perhaps with a third-person narrative, stories of self can come to life in three-dimensional worlds that make meaning of experience, and hopefully generate empathy and connection with others. Removing the shield of author, and stripping away the mechanisms that hide the fragility of a human being alone, we know what we experienced, and we know how it felt. How we looked out at the world and the people in it, how we continue to do that. The difference between being a child as opposed to being an adult is that, as the former, we are powerless to our fate, and powerless to change anything. Becoming the latter enables empowerment to not only steer our own course, but more importantly, to change our ways of thinking, reacting and of just being. We can decide to be weak, or we can determine to be strong, and to analyse our past to the point of not wallowing in the soreness of it, but in recognizing how our experiences have shaped us – and perhaps, to step outside of it all, to write it out in a fictional world as we look back in; the spectator.

 Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth. [Oscar Wilde]

For the writer’s inspiration, this is gold. For the writer’s soul, this is life.

 

Photograph is the copyright of Errol Farrell. 2017

12 imperfectly perfect observations…and not just for Christmas!

 

  1. Not everyone is going to agree with you; they don’t have to.
  2. You are not going to agree with everyone; you don’t have to.
  3. Normal is unfathomable, therefore, unattainable, therefore, unimportant.
  4. Difference is unique, therefore human, therefore, precious.
  5. You look the way you do, you are who you are; stop apologizing.
  6. See, there, in the mirror; that is beauty.
  7. You are your best company; be kind to you.
  8. Respect is a gift. Refuse the alternative.
  9. Empathy is everything. Make it your religion.
  10. Learn from your blackest days. Your imagination lurks there.
  11. Embrace the crazy. Write it down. Don’t lose it.
  12. You are imperfectly perfect; so are they.

On Writing…all that you have

Writing is discovery. Discovery is inspiration. Inspiration leads to more writing.

Do yourself a favour today. Pull out one of those old notebooks that you treasure so much, yet haven’t looked into for an age. Click into a file folder that you haven’t opened for a while.

Rediscover that quote, note, concept, thought, script treatment or novel beginning that you find waiting there, and work on it.

Ideas have patience, but time does not.

Do it. Now.

A Solitary Fantasy…

My love of writing is turning me into an unsocial being. I am slowly growing to accept this, but what a dilemma!

On so many levels, we need to connect with the people and the world we live in, and yet, when the muse comes, we also need to be able to shut the world out, even to the point of missing precious time spent with our friends and loved ones.

Of course, if these relationships are solid, the support of our aspirations will be securely at our backs, but it is still a ruthless and yes, sometimes selfish line that writers must balance between the need for solitary writing time, and the need to feed the inspirational requirements to write something of truth and meaning.

And even when in the midst of a crowd, are we really ever in the moment? Or we are sponges, soaking up, what Gabriel Garcia Marquez describes as, the interpretation of our reality through patterns not our own, serving only to make us ever more unknown, ever less free, ever more solitary.

A favourite quote of mine comes from Maya Angelou: If one is lucky, a solitary fantasy can totally transform a million realities…live in hope.

The image reproduced here is the copyright of Errol Farrell. 2012