Inspire: in- +spirare = to breathe. From Latin. To inspire: to breathe or blow into or upon; to influence, move, or guide by divine or supernatural inspiration; to bring about.
Inspiration: a divine influence or manifestation that qualifies a person to receive and communicate sacred revelation; the act of inhaling or drawing in; the act or power of moving the intellect or emotion
My Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary says nothing about when or how a writer can be inspired or inspiration can visit a writer. To be honest, I rarely think about it. My imagination and I enjoy a good, playful relationship so I’m usually awash in ideas. My problem is time.
Thinking about it, I like the notion of inspiration being the act of inhaling or drawing in. Writers draw in the world, give it to their imaginations, and then listen to how the imagination processes the world…or plays with it. Inspiration, then, comes from within, and we are each responsible for our own inspiration. As writers, we must live, interact with people, observe the world, interact with different cultures, experience Nature. It is not enough to read books or sit at a desk and write on a computer or in longhand on paper. The ideas must come from somewhere. Each writer has her own mental magnet for drawing to her what she needs for her inspiration.
The best books, music and art inspire me. They energize me, provoke me to think about the world in a different way, see my experience with different eyes. Often what comes out of this is change of some sort, whether it is a way of thinking or simply a way of perceiving. Or perhaps the inspiration is to write, or only to read more of that author’s books or listen to more of that composer’s music.
We dare not wait for inspiration to find us. It does not haunt the passive or the lazy. Inspiration is a cat asleep in the sun on the windowsill. She needs to be awakened, played with, teased, fed, petted and cuddled and loved. Then she will purr with your imagination, play with your ideas as toys, and her play will be your stories. But if we do not act to wake her, she will just continue to sleep in the sun on the windowsill.
Why do you think taking long walks outdoors without gadgets of any kind can be so productive, eh? Be in the world and the world will be in you, inspire you, energize your ideas and your writing. Expect only to wake up the cat and to play, nothing more. It is our privilege to accept what comes and to share it with the world.
Is inspiration divine in nature? It depends on the definition of divine. I do not limit it to coming from God and God alone. For me, everything in the universe is divine, and like the greeting Namaste, I greet the god in everything as it greets the god in me. So, everything is also connected whether unconsciously, as Carl Jung postulated, or on an even deeper level. The divine energy flows through everything. But that cat sleeping in the sun is not God, nor is the writer who wakes her. The writer has a responsibility to respect the cat as well as the universe and part of the divine energy that connects everything.
What does “to be inspired” mean to you? What is inspiration to you? If you are an artist, it’s important to know yourself in order to practice your art. And you’ll need to work for that knowledge. Remember, that cat will just go on sleeping unless you wake her…..