This is the first in what I hope will be a series of posts by other authors. Today’s blogger is my fellow writer and friend Courtney Marquez. She’s currently writing her first book, historical fiction based in early 1900s Oklahoma.
Hi, my name is Courtney and I’m a writer. Of course, the word “writer” can encompass a broad range of activity. There is the poet, the songwriter, the novelist, the essayist. Then there is a whole host of corporate careers in communication requiring the skill of a wordsmith.
I don’t fit all of those categories, but we all have one thing in common: inspiration. It seems like such a simple term for the complex emotion and action that come with it. You see, inspiration seems like a very active word to me. You must act on it or its time will pass, leaving in its wake an empty void.
The other day I was pondering why I write and the answer was very clear. I’m inspired. And that inspiration comes in so many forms. For me, a writer who spends a lot of my time in historical fiction, it can be something as simple as an old photograph, the front page of a newspaper from 1934 or the marriage license found in a stack of family documents.
Those objects get me to thinking about the people, our grandparents and great-grandparents, who were once our age. They once had dreams and aspirations—or maybe they didn’t. Who knows now? They weren’t “famous” and their lives weren’t documented closely. When you start digging into their history, you are left with only the few documents that mark their high and low points. Birth, marriage, military service, procreation or death. As the pastor who spoke at a family funeral recently said, “There is a lot of stuff that goes with the hyphen between when you are born and when you die.”
So, that’s where I’m inspired to imagine what might have been.
Those aren’t the only things that help the creative to surface in me. Music plays a huge role. That would be why I own nine days worth of music in my iTunes library. There are moments when I hear a song and it carries me to the place where words flow from my fingers. God Bless those artists. (A big shout out to Amos Lee, The Punch Brothers, Johnny Flynn and, in moments of angst, Fiona Apple)
Inspiration is tricky though. If you are open to its flights of fancy, anything can be inspiring. A movie, a book you read and pieces of art are easy. Some of the best inspiration can come from unexpected corners. The next time you drive down the highway take a look at the couple in the car arguing. Imagine what they might be saying to each other. Go sit in a park for an hour and watch parents interact with their children. Volunteer at the local homeless shelter. Talk with a stranger. Or simply take something you feel like you’ve always known and try to take it out of its box and reimagine it.
Of course, then you must act on it.
– Courtney Marquez
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