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Inspiration?

It's been a while since I posted something to my blog, so I think I'll take advantage of this moment of inspiration to do so.

"Moments of inspiration" come so rarely to writers. I suppose I'm as guilty as the next person when thinking of famous and successful writers like Hemingway, Steinbeck, and J. K. Rowling and somewhere in my subconscious having the idea emerge that their stories came out fully formed, publication ready. It’s been proven to me over and over again that 99.9% of all writing is just plain hard work.

Some of us do have what seems to be a natural proclivity towards the written word. I like to think that mine came mainly from being a voracious reader in my youth. Naturally, other factors are involved, but I attribute the bulk of my ability to the fact that every summer I would max out on our local library's reading program usually no later than the end of June. That I had to wait until some time in August for my free Dairy Queen treat still rankles, so I’m fairly certain that this memory is true.

But, even for those of us to whom writing comes more readily it is my experience that, “moments of inspiration,” are truly rare. From a second grade Mother’s Day story through graduate school compositions, the only time I can remember something coming incredibly easy and pretty much “publication ready” was an essay I wrote for class that anyone wanting to be a Resident Advisor at the University of Washington had to take. The assignment was to write something that reflected your personal history and philosophy, or something like that.

What I very vividly recall is having practically zero time to do the writing, forcing myself to sit down at my manual Sears typewriter and pushing out a piece of writing that, if I could find it, think I’d still be proud of today. It was a highly confessional piece, inspired by Whitney Houston’s song, “Greatest Love of All.” I’m fairly certain it was one of maybe two or three A+s I ever received during forty-something years of academics, but it is not a piece of writing that I would feel comfortable sharing with a broad, general audience. The essay was one of our final assignments, and the bond of trust between myself and our teachers was strong.

So, perhaps the moral to this blog is that to compose writing we’re willing to share with a broad, general audience, we must not wait for “moments of inspiration.” We must doggedly persevere, wrists resting on the gel pads at the base of our keyboards, to uncover truths worth reading. Thomas Edison is given credit for the idea "Genius is one per cent inspiration, ninety-nine per cent perspiration." Anyone facing a writing assignment would do well to remember this!