Inspiration comes in so many different forms…why choose only one source?
My muse has always been my life. I'm inspired by my relationships, my feelings, and my surroundings. As a writer, I believed that inspiration could only come from my sadness. I genuinely believed that unless I was experiencing deep, dark depression I couldn't write. Not only that, but unless I was experiencing great sorrow, I wouldn't write.
While I still find writing to be a cathartic practice when working through and coping with breakups, losses, and challenges, eventually, I found it to all be a little bit boring. All my short stories began to read the exact same. The names changed, but the stories stayed the same.
I was so inspired by my sadness that I would chase it. I would purposely create situations where I knew I would end up sad. I thought, "this is how a writer is supposed to live." Tortured. Weren't all the greats tortured? Prisoners of their own minds only able to break free in the form of their words that they spun into stories they could only dream of living in. Living, walking nightmares. I fell in love with emotionally unavailable men, physically unavailable men, alcoholics, men far too old to truly care about my happiness other than my material happiness and what I looked like undressed. All in hopes of finding that gem. That one dash of inspiration. The one thing that would write my story for me. I looked in men. I looked in the bottom of bottles. I looked in new cities and jobs; but, I could never find it. That one sadness that was so different from the other times.
My search for inspiration not only consumed me, it destroyed me. And, it would take years to rebuild. But then one day, while writing one of my sad, usual stories, I realized, I didn't have to be sad. I didn't have to write a story about sadness. I could be inspired by joy, love, happiness. Or any other emotion aside from sadness really. I had this sudden epiphany that I was the author of my life. Both on paper and in practice. It was like a slap in the face. While in the past, I searched for inspiration in everything but the good, I realized there was tons of inspiration to be found. Not only in the good but in the great. In the mundane. In the content. In the happy. I realized, there were other ways and I didn't have to torture myself physically, mentally, and emotionally to write that One Great Story.
I still haven't written that "One Great Story." And, maybe there isn't just one, but many. The many little great stories that add up to be that One Great Story. I look back on my stories from when I was inspired by the darkness in life, and I wonder, "why did that character hate herself so much?"
The first thing I've learned about inspiration is this, it doesn't have to come from sorrow. It doesn't have to come from pain. Inspiration from sadness is no greater than inspiration born out of happiness. What inspires you today, could bore you tomorrow. Inspiration is like the sun. Always rising and falling in the same way, yet each time it's more beautiful and unique than the last. Inspiration isn't just about what you feel, it's about what moves you to act. Just like the sunrise moves the flowers to bloom, so does inspiration move me and you to bloom in our own unique ways. The second thing I've learned about inspiration is that just like the flowers, it has its seasons. Inspiration is something that you can't control. You can't be mad at yourself for feeling uninspired for long periods of time. Do the flowers or the trees get mad when they are not in bloom any longer? When their leaves and their petals begin to wilt and their stems fall heavy. No. Inspiration is fuel, sure. But it is not infinite, it is finite. It's a loss of agency as you allow something to work through you There are infinite ways to be inspired but the power at which your inspiration can fuel you is ever-changing and not meant to last forever. But that's the beauty of it. We all have our seasons.
Candace Gasper is a freelance writer based out of Northern Kentucky. She lives with her 2 dogs, and enjoys writing creative non-fiction, self-help, and motivational posts. She is a co-founder of TopShelfBitch on Instagram, which is dedicated to inspiring women mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Learn more Candace and TopShelfBitch by following her on Instagram or read the latest blog posts here!