A Garden of Delights

Posts Tagged ‘Writers Resources

Signing in late today…  it’s been a long day of time spent at DMV and driving, driving and more driving.  Oh, and more driving…

Cover of Green Memory

Green Memory Cover (photo courtesy of BA Chepaitis

But I could not let the day close out without welcoming author Barbara Chepaitis to the Garden of Delights as my guest blogger for the week.  Writer, reader, English professor, and interpretive artist among so many other things, Barbara Chepaitis also is a creative cook who blogs about life and pets and recipes on her blog: A Literary Lunch.  She just recently finished a virtual book tour and graciously took some time out to leave the clay soil of her own garden to spend time in ours.  And oddly, both have clay, clay, shale and more clay….

Please welcome, Ms. Barbara Chepaitis.

INSPIRATION HAS NO EXPIRATION DATE

    When I’m asked about the source of inspiration for my writing, I don’t want to just say inspiration is everywhere, it’s all material, and so on.  That’s true, but not very helpful.  Maybe the better question is how do I access it?  How do I get just the thought I need, just when I need it?      

       That’s simple.  I get it by keeping myself in a state of open awareness, ready to filter any events, flitting images and thoughts, swirls of song or bits of conversation, into the needs of my work.  I think that’s true of most artists.  We’re always ready for inspiration, because we know that if we’re ready, it always shows up.  

      Here’s an example.  When Jaguar Addams, my protagonist in the ‘Fear’ series of novels, first appeared, I was on my way to visit a friend who’d just had a baby, and my thoughts roamed as they do when you’re driving.  I was asking myself what I might write next.  I was also asking myself if I wanted to have another child.  I was wondering rather than worrying, open to guidance rather than needing answers.  In my tape player the Eurythmics song “No Fear, No Hate, No Broken Hearts,” was playing the opening lines – well, in the morning when our day begins/ and it feels like cold, dark steel. 

     Immediately, a woman with oceanic green eyes rose up, fixed me with her intent and told me quite clearly, “What you’ll do next is write me.”

      She was Jaguar Addams, and I did exactly as she asked.  

      So you could say the source of inspiration was the song, but it had to combine with specific personal questions, and a state of open wondering. 

      In short, I was listening, both internally and externally.   

     Our culture gives more kudos to smooth talkers than good listeners, but for writers – perhaps all artists – that skill is the underpinning of inspiration.  In fact, in the graduate writing classes I teach, one of the first things I make students do is spend ten minutes silently observing their environment.  I tell them to listen with their eyes, their skin, and their heart as well as their ears. They’re always amazed at how much material they come away with.

     Once they catch on, they can put themselves in that state more readily, and so inspiration falls into their waiting, open, hands.

     Simple, right?  Yes, but in our busy, frantic, noisy and cluttered world, it takes practice. Consummate artists practice it, literally, to the end of their lives.  The great Irish harpist and composer, Carolan, composed his last piece on his deathbed – Carolan’s Farewell.  Alan Ginsberg’s obituary said he spent his last hours with family and friends, and wrote six poems.  They’d become so good at it, even the spectre of death didn’t chase their inspiration away.  

       So if you’re a writer seeking inspiration, or a reader wondering where it comes from, go sit on your front stoop or in your yard.  Relax, and give all your attention to what’s around you. Then listen to your own heart.  Reflect on what you’ve observed, and write about it. 

      And keep writing.  Keep listening.  

Barbara Chepaitis is author of eight published novels and two nonfiction books.  Her most recent novel is The Green Memory of Fear, fifth book in the ‘fear’ series featuring Jaguar Addams.  She is also director of the fiction writing program at Western College of Colorado’s Master’s program in creative writing.

Her Jaguar Addams novels can be found at Wildside Books, http://www.wildsidebooks.com/CHEPAITIS-B-A_c_315.html

Website:  http://www.wildreads.com

blog: aliterarylunch.blogspot.com

facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/pages/Jaguar-Addams-and-the-Fear-Series/135879429815445

delight

delight (Photo credit: paloetic)

We’re back on schedule here at the Garden of Delights, and that means Your Inspirations.  Today I have the honor of welcoming a wonderful writer (and an incredibly helpful and outgoing person), Martine  Svanevik, the self-named nascent novelist.  When you have a chance, please step over to her blog and read her most recent piece on Stories That Stick or any of a number of others

Writing in Public

cup of coffee

There are two types of writers: reclusive and social. The reclusive writers hide away in corners, go on solitary retreats and lock themselves away so they can write. The social writers join groups and collectives, and like to go to parks or cafes to get their writing done.

Often, non-social writers and readers have the preconception that social writers are hipsters or posers or both. That their Macbook airs are open on blank pages because they have nothing of depth to offer, that they sit at cafes to be seen, while real writers hide away, shaping their words in private. But really, it’s all about the kind of environment you draw inspiration from.

The cafe writer enjoys the buzz of human interaction, she thrives on catching snippets of other people’s conversations, she needs a space where the tap-tap-tapping of fingers on keyboards won’t thunder through an empty room.

She knows that her words are written so they can be shared, and that it’s only in the reading of them that they serve a purpose, so she writes them in public. Or maybe she feels like the only place she can truly be in her own space, is in a crowd. That her muse hides in that special silence you get when you’re surrounded by noise and movement. Sure the laptop sets her apart, but it doesn’t define her.

Now, I’m not saying there’s a right way to write, or that everyone would gain a circumstance bonus from sitting in a noisy crowd. I am in awe of writers who are so comfortable in their own head that they can spend most of their time alone in there. What I am saying is that the search for inspiration might take us weird places, but as long as we’re willing to chase our muse, who cares where she leads us? I’m sure it’s going to be somewhere good.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to steal a snippet of conversation from the girls next to me, and then figure out the definition of a “Toronto bro.”

The elegant, creative Martine

Martine, lovely both inside and out

About Martine Helene Svanevik

Martine Helene Svanevik is a fiction writer from Montreal. She spends her days editing text for computer games, her evenings powerlifting and crossfitting, and her nights writing twisted stories set in a darker world than our own.

She blogs about writing and training over on nascentnovelist.wordpress.com and can often be found wasting time on twitter (https://twitter.com/#!/martinemonster).


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