Inspiration is a much-discussed part of the creative process. There are two parts to inspiration: all the inputs that feed inspiration and the moment of inspiration itself. While we may not be able to control the flash of inspiration and its timing, we can help lay the groundwork. The key is to expose ourselves and our children to experiences that can inspire us.
A childhood walk in the woods inspired nonfiction writer Melissa Stewart and her writings. Her father asked Melissa and her brother to look carefully. What did they see? Melissa noticed smaller, younger trees surrounded by taller, older trees. She was right; there had been a fire years before, and the young trees had sprouted after the fire. That experience — thanks to her dad — helped Melissa see the narrative in nature and influenced her career path and writings.
While I was at the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Conference, my husband texted me at 10:o0 p.m. Sunday evening. Should he wake up Cooper to watch the Curiosity rover land on Mars. Yes! Yes! Yes! When we visited the Jet Propulsion Laboratory months ago, I was struck by how many members of the Mars Science Laboratory team remembered watching the Apollo 11 moon landing on television. They pointed to that experience as the inspiration for their work in space science. That same event, along with the book, THE RIGHT STUFF, inspired my husband to become a test pilot. I knew letting Cooper witness the event might provide him with the inspiration he needs to study Mars or other planets some day.
As a parent, I know we can provide opportunities and experiences that could inspire our children’s career path, creative work, hobbies or interests. As a writer, I know the more knowledge and experiences I have to draw from, the richer my work will be.