Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Spark

Inspiration is elusive.

I would know. As a writer, I am in constant pursuit of it. Yet when I try to catch it, I never do. I have to wait until it comes to me, a delicious spark that flickers and then burns, flooding my entire being with purpose and clarity, opening my eyes to details I had never seen before even though I see them everyday, illuminating my mind until it's filled with so many ideas I can't write them down fast enough.

As a writer, I live for those moments.

But, more often, I know the desolation of not having it, the agony of staring at a computer screen until my eyes go crossed, only to eke out one sentence that I then quickly delete. I can write without inspiration. I have to; it comes too seldom to rely on all the time. But it's hard, painful, even, like pushing through a workout on my elliptical when the resistance is set at twelve.

I never know when inspiration is going to come. There is no magic spell to conjure it. Often the spark is ignited by the most unexpected things: a conversation I hear in passing, the sound of rain pattering on the grass in our yard, a drop of condensation sliding down my glass at a restaurant. Whatever brings it, whenever it comes I wish it would stay forever.

Recently I've been feeling like inspiration had abandoned me altogether. Debilitated by writer's block and discouraged with every story I had started, I hadn't felt like writing for weeks. No spark, only cold ashes.

Until yesterday, when, on my way to Target for the second time that day (after an hour of shopping, I had gotten to the front of the line only to realize I had forgotten my wallet at home) I saw the strangest sight. A middle-aged woman riding a horse through my neighborhood, a bright red, flowered hat perched on her head and what looked like a violin case slung aross her back. Alongside her she led a shaggy pony straddled with two massive, overstuffed saddlebags. I stared at her as I drove by. Where is she going? I wondered. Where did she come from? What the heck is that on her head?

It didn't matter that I would probably never have the answers to those questions. The second I saw her, I felt the spark of inspiration flicker inside of me for the first time in months. I welcomed it with joy and relief. It hadn't abandoned me, after all.

I don't know how long this spark will stay burning, but I will take advantage of it while it lasts, and then bide the long wait until it comes again.

Until the next red-hatted woman I see riding down the road.

Thank goodness for her,
The Brown-Eyed Girl

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