Inspiration, Where Art Thou?

I met Julia Cameron, in Seattle in 1995, at a Center for Creative Education event. Her message of own your creativity resonated like nothing before. She became my pied piper. I did morning pages with verve, set ritual artist’s dates for myself and created personal radar to identify and repel the destructive shadow artists in my life.

At our meeting, I asked, “MS. Cameron do you offer classes on The Artist’s Way or can you recommend a teacher in Seattle?”

            “No, why?”

            “I love this book and I’d like to develop a class around it.”

            “Then do it.”

Her ease and graciousness shocked me. As an aside, she wore a hand painted dress by a Taos artist that I coveted. The dress flowed with the same grace as her answer. Her confidence taught me to share my creativity not hug it to my chest. I took her at her word and offered classes based on her book and its principles.

Teaching became a love. But after multiple cross country moves and many class sessions, I realized I had become a shadow artist as an acolyte of Julia Cameron. I was not honoring my desire to write though I knew I had a book in me. When asked, on occasion, as I changed jobs and locales, “What do you plan to do next?”

            My cavalier response was, “I’m going to write a book.”

In retrospect I realize it was an uninformed declaration. As uninformed as when several decades earlier I said, “I want a baby.”

Just as I knew nothing about babies or the speed that they turn into self-actualized teens, I had no idea what it took to put one word after another to form a sentence or to compile sentences into a paragraph. Sure, I knew the mechanics. I had written hundreds of business letters and managed multiple product documentation teams but I had not allowed myself to write creatively.

Time to put up or shut up. I bought the perfect desk, placed it in the ideal spot and acquired two drawers full of pens, pencils, highlighters, and multi-hued and sized post-it notes. I used my working knowledge of MSWord to create a chapter and version number scheme. I added three jump drives to my supply collection to ensure sufficient space for regular backups of my masterwork.

I didn’t want some words or some sentences, I wanted perfection, the lightening bolt idea crafted in to a gold star publication. I was ready. I had the tools of of my chosen art.

I also had multiple blank legal pads, notebooks bound in leather, composition books and a mound of scattered thoughts on scraps of paper.  My despicable computer display reflected every attempt as imperfection.  I needed inspiration.

Where does one find inspiration? I have no idea. True, there are writers who have lived through extraordinary adventures or who have had an idea that nags until writing, medication or insanity are the plausible cures. Based on the thousand plus writers I have worked with, the inspired are a rare breed.

Sad to say, for most of us books come from work. Not inspiration. We must face the demon of the blank page or screen. We must set goals and we must do the work. Sorry not to deliver the much wanted but phantom silver bullet. I do promise that if you do the work you will be amazed.

A day of bad writing is always better than a day of no writing. — Don Roff

by Lee Heffner

Lee’s passions are writing and writers. She began her work with creatives in 1995. A writer of both fiction and non-fiction, she integrates her passion and skills to coach other writers to achieve their goals. In addition she teaches to further develop the writing practices of her students.

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© 2019 Lee Heffner – Author