As writers, that is a really broad and terribly needed topic. I can only tell you how I find inspiration and where you might want to look. I don’t garden, terribly allergic to flowers, but somehow, I have a thing for weeds. Words like “thistle” or “thicket” or “dandelion” or “lichen” come up over and over. These are things that usually are meant to be “tamed” or killed. They are “bad” in comparison to the petunia and the daisy. So, then I find inspiration in what people don’t think of and good or beautiful—perfect. That’s where poetry starts!
Think about five things that you like or (don’t) that people think of as good or bad, ugly or beautiful. For example, my father LOVES his flowers, knows every type of flower, loves a very green lawn. I, however, pray for mushrooms. I love mushroom circles and every time one shows up, his grass loses its pristine and I find true love and magic. So, my word would be mushroom, or maybe a specific mushroom.
Where else to find inspiration? We always say to write the unexpected…nice. How do we find the inspiration for that? Well, today in my class, I wrote about my fast-food restaurant not serving the correct brand of ketchup. How unexpected is that? Going small, molecular, digging in with scientific words, or going to ordinary tasks and putting your turn on it. You have a unique perspective. That means that even if we both write about ketchup, you might have an ode to the organic, or to Hunts, while I try to sway you with my love of Heinz. What about writing about cat litter or how your dog tugs you to the scent of skunk or porridge? Is there something you do that’s weird? Write about it. Do you know someone weird? Change their name, features, (and don’t tell them I told you to do this) write about them.
Write down three things that are “unexpected.” So, remember it can be about you, the road, your pets, it’s all on the table. Then write a line or sentence and play around and see if you feel it becomes “unexpected.” Example: Kim’s List… 1. has two cats that hate her because she gives them medication. 2. Eats mostly tofu and French fries 3. Unlikely writer (she was told she would never be a writer)
Kim’s line: my tofu cries when I chase down my cats, terrified, I will ink them into paper.
“Big” events tend to bring out words for me. At first, I’m overwhelmed, published for the first time, general angst, someone dying, someone being born—these are all big topics. I also call them “hot”—they are emotionally charged. Sometimes in the beginning these thoughts and inspirations just boil over. Usually, that’s good to create the backbones of poems or prose, but when the topic has cooled—that’s when the inspiration gets juicy. When my grandmother died, I had a hard time writing about what I was feeling. It was abstract—what does morose really mean? It means watching the tv show Scorpion and writing in my journal. Which description shows grief better? Morose or binge watching?
Find a “hot” topic that has cooled. Can you reflect on it and use it either as ammunition or inspiration?
Example: Kim bought her grandmother miniature roses and kept them in the nursing home until they needed planted. She did this. And after her grandmother died, she tended these roses, loved these roses, and her father, wanting to tame the garden (he didn’t remember) weed wacked and Kim only had memories left.