Posts Tagged ‘Harlequin’

Defending Inspiration

August 5, 2009

Sam Caught In The ActDefending Inspiration

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My guest today is Samantha Hunter. She’s written sixteen books for Harlequin. She’s worked as a university writing instructor for ten years and Sam’s been writing full-time since 2005. Sam loves to cook, being outdoors and she’s a quilter who makes some gorgeous bags, and a self named bag addict. So, I’d say she’s well familiar with the concept of inspiration.

I saw a comment on Twitter yesterday, where someone posted a quote that said “If you wait for inspiration, you’re a waiter, not a writer.” As quippy as it is, that made me sad.

A lot of writers dismiss inspiration, and I have to admit, that’s not me. I believe in the magic, the spark, and the muse. I consider myself a writer who does wait for inspiration – and that hasn’t kept me from producing sixteen books for Harlequin to date with several more that have either not been published or are in the works.

To me, inspiration is not antithetical to the work of writing, but it is the air that writers breathe – it’s what keeps us going. It’s the initial idea, the premise, the strike of brilliance, the trigger, whatever you want to call it. It’s the “roll” we get on or the thing that breaks the block. It’s the power behind the words, the thing that makes craft more than mechanics. It’s that feeling that pushes us through a book, and I think in the best of cases, the reader can feel it, too – when they are completely sucked in, or find a moment in a book making them laugh or moving them to tears.

When we get inspired, following a spark, we can work like we’re on fire, write page after page, barely able to keep up. Then the work starts to suggest itself, the book starts rolling out in front of us – the work fuels inspiration this way, too. The more we write, the more ideas we have to keep writing.

What I have found is that the process of being inspired is a lot like meditating – if you relax, if you open your mind to the world and the possibilities, it works. A lot of people don’t want to stake their careers on that, but I can’t imagine having a career without it, if only because it’s part of the joy of writing. I’ve found that the only time I am really happy and writing my best is when I am inspired, and I’ve also found that the more you encourage it, the more often it comes. But that’s just me.

So why do so many writers dismiss inspiration, as if it’s something that gets in the way of work rather than something that fuels it? I suppose because they fear it won’t come to them, and that’s a scary thing. I’ve also thought that writers might think that admitting that they believe in inspiration might make them seem flighty or floofy…but that’s where the work comes in. I believe in being inspired, and I don’t think any of my editors or my agent would consider me irresponsible or not having a good work ethic – I have never missed a deadline. I consistently propose new ideas, I finish books. I write almost every day, and sometimes, I do write even when I’m not “feeling it,” because we have to, but if I am really uninspired, I really can’t write. Yes, that’s scary. But, usually, if I relax and remind myself what it is I love about what I do, and maybe go work in my garden for a while, it comes back.

In the end, it’s whatever works for you – writing is highly individualistic. What’s right for one person is not right for someone else, and that’s okay, but I reject the wholesale dismissal of inspiration in our world. Sure, we have to know the business, the craft, the market, etc but we can’t let it take over, and I find believing in inspiration is the best defense. Twitter being what it is, also offered up a quote I did like, one that balanced out the scales, and that was from Ray Bradbury, who said “You must stay drunk on writing so that reality cannot destroy you.” So, I’ll leave it at that.
🙂