Deep Within the Ebb of Inspiration

Just as there is a rhythm in every good story, so too is there a flow and an ebb of inspiration in every writer’s life.

Sometimes the ideas show up so fast, and so rich in details, that our keyboards would be smoking if we could type fast enough to keep up with the flow.

At other times, there’s slow, deep thoughtful movement, leading us into intense effort as we stretch one simple idea into something big enough and shiny enough to be a real story.

It’s strange, isn’t it, that we believe inspiration is supposed to strike like lightning, sharp and vivid, burning a complete novel into our brains in one exhilarating rush of genius.  When in truth, those moments of extreme clarity are few and far between.  In the ebb of that initial burst of ideas we spends hours or days mulling over dozens of possibilities, mentally writing and trashing hundreds of scenes, and struggling to keep our characters behaving the way they initially promised they would.

It might appear to someone else that we’re “wasting time.”

If a family member passes the doorway and catches us staring into space, they take that as an indication that we need something productive to do, since we’re “not really busy writing.”  Something like putting a load of laundry in the washer, or taking out the garbage, or cleaning the garage.

But it’s in those “daydreaming” spaces of the inspirational stream that our stories really take root and begin to grow into something exciting and fulfilling.

So while I have no problem moving the wet clothes to the dryer, I want you to know that putting my daydreaming on hold leaves my hero hanging from a crumbling cliff by his fingernails.  Or the heroic bloodhound halted in his search for a missing child.  Or an out of control truck in a perpetual balancing act on two wheels.

And I have no idea how I’ll write my way out of those predicaments once I get back to my computer.  But I can guarantee it will involve some more daydreaming.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go start of new load of clothes in the washer.