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  • Writer's pictureRobert Sadler

Inspiration: Find It, Use It

Updated: Dec 9, 2023

Inspiration is where you find it, where you see it, where you hear it, where you feel it, where you taste it, and where you touch it. Inspiration materializes within you as an idea. You have only to act upon it.

An apt analogy comes from  Matthew 7:7 “Ask, and you will receive. Search, and you will find. Knock, and the door will be opened to you.” Again, with the metaphor of the ‘open door’, you still must use your volition to walk through it.

There is never a moment for any of us when inspiration and ideas do not exist. Inspiration is as ready for you as you are for it.

Case in point 1A: As a poet, how much inspiration, how many ideas must be grasped to write millions of words to create over four-thousand poems? At least four thousand ideas you would think, right? Actually, most poems are composed of tens, even  hundreds of ideas expressed in a string of words. Each word inspiring the next… until the poem ends.

It is easy to determine for the reader, where a poem begins. However for the writer, the poet, that is not always the case. Likewise with the end. It is always there, waiting to be found, and yet as I wrote many years ago, “that any poem ends, is it’s own ambiguity”. 

I found years ago, that writing about myself, my feelings became almost preternatural exercises. I found it more enlightening, more enchanting, and more engaging for me to inhabit, or listen to someone outside myself, a character, through which his or her experiences could be lived or observed and thus written about.

‘Apocryphal’, is described from ‘Oxford Languages’ as a “story or statement of doubtful authenticity, although widely circulated as being true”. That definition seems an almost synonymous fit with the word ‘fiction’. Britannica says fiction is “literature created from the imagination, not presented as fact, though it may be based on a true story or situation”. 

Hmm, sounds like ideas are tailor made for writing fiction. Whether an idea leads to inspiration or inspiration leads to an idea, you still need the volition, the decision to act/write. I see the process as having two parts:  Part 1, All one needs is a character or characters, created from you imagination, for you to observe as they encounter ‘the situation’. Part 2: The volition to follow, observe and write down what the character/s see, feel emotionally, smell, touch, taste… or do in reaction to what others do.

Case in point 1B: Almost twenty-five years ago—[1/31/1999]—I was watching TV. A commercial came on (before TiVo/DVRs in March 1999) so I had to either get up and go do something else, or sit through the commercial until the program, I had been watching, resumed.

As best as I can recall, the scene in the foreground was of a green, grassy lawn with a large white two story house in the background. In the middle ground was an attractive woman dressed casually (use your own imagination). Suddenly out of the sky around her fell thousands of what to my memory were blank white 3x5 or 5x7 cards floating down around her like huge confetti. I’m almost certain she reached out and grabbed one.

Now, for the life of me I cannot remember who or what the sponsor was. All I know is I was immediately inspired with the idea that each one of those cards was a love letter from her lover. The words: “love letters from the sky” were seemingly emblazoned across my prefrontal cortex. 

I left the living room and went to my computer and started to write (type) a long-lined poem titled: “love letters from the sky”. The poem wrote itself as characters appeared to tell the story of those letters. 

Most of the poems I had been writing had lines of five or six words, this one had lines of ten to twelve words, and though unconventionally metered with no specific rhyme scheme it, to me, revealed itself as a prose poem of some five hundred ‘odd’ words.

When I finished writing the poem. I was pleased with myself that I had acted on the inspiration provided by the images in the commercial and turned them into a character-driven, character-lived poem. (I always prefer that my poetry ‘tells stories’.)

I am not sure how long after I wrote that poem, but soon, I became disconsolate over the presumed fate of the two characters inhabiting love letters from the sky. Though poignant and evocative of truthful thoughts and emotions, the poem was not particularly uplifting—not that it had to be. I just knew it left me wanting… there was a mystery there.This unease manifested the idea: There’s more to this story… and it’s a story that needs telling. So who’s telling it? I need to find them and write their story.

That was the trigger that started my first novel, which started out as The Alternate Contention, a title that sounded too Robert Ludlum-ish. At some point I changed the title to Jamaica Moon.  

Here is the poem that started it… all five-hundred-sixteen words.

Those 516 words beget the 160,385 words in Jamaica Moon, bringing to life some 80 characters to tell the story of the poem’s two lovers. Characters that had more stories to tell which spawned the mystery/thriller series: The Black Book Investigations of Michael Grant and Associates. A series that has inspired 30 novels and some 2,600,000+ words.

That was a pretty inspiring commercial… even if I don’t remember what the sponsor was selling!

Let me repeat: Inspiration is where you find it, where you see it, where you hear it, where you feel it, and where you touch it. Inspiration materializes within you as an idea. You have only to act upon it.

PS… Those poems and novels have all been written using a process called, by those of us who practice it, “Writing Into The Dark”. That is to say, writing a story with one’s imagination, one’s creative-mind fully engaged. No pre-planned critical-mind thinking, no outlining, no pre-plotting, no character sketches, no re-writing… etc. You simply record what your characters are doing and saying as they encounter the situation they find themselves in and move to resolve their story—as ‘writer’, I’m simply their witness, their reporter. 

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1 Comment

Harvey Stanbrough
Harvey Stanbrough
Dec 08, 2023

Great post, Robert. I'll link to it in tomorrow's Journal.

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