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February 06, 2018

The Treasure of Inspiration

By M. LaRose

If you write, you’ve probably experienced at least one inspiration that’s swept into your thoughts unexpectedly. Like a rogue wave, an idea suddenly rises from your subconscious, swells forward, and tosses the gleaming treasure of a story-concept onto the beach of your conscious mind. Startled and amazed, you examine the new inspiration, turning it over in your mind, marveling at its beauty.

But, as often happens when finding buried baubles, you soon realize that the beautiful inspiration is only part of a larger treasure, which still lies hidden. If you want to see the rest of the treasure in all its glory, you’ll have to do some digging. You’ll have to dig into your imagination, recording what you find and polishing the pieces until they glow.

Since I enjoy writing about alternate realities, I’m intrigued by artistic inspiration itself. What is this force we call the creative muse? It seems that ideas for stories swirl around us, but what makes an idea suddenly alight and grow within the mind? Why do we dig further to uncover or nurture one specific idea, while ignoring others that are also promising?

Sometimes a writer is extremely lucky and may be gifted with an entire plot. Like the frame of a sunken galleon pulled forth from icy waters that have preserved its ancient timbers, the rare inspiration may need only light work before it’s fully-formed. I had an inspiration of this type last year, when a tiny image that had been floating in my mind for two or three years suddenly swelled into the complete plot of a new novel. I wrote that story in eleven months, which amazed me, since it had taken me about 15 years to write my debut novel, The Flower Eater.

But more often, inspiration is a tiny gleaming flash that only signals the presence of a deeper treasure. Nevertheless, it’s thrilling to find that treasure, that inspiration. The experience can feel magical and mysterious. While writing The Flower Eater, there were many times when I had no idea what should happen next -- until a sudden inspiration dropped into my mind and fit, like a missing puzzle piece that had been found. When these inspirations struck, they felt like gifts. I sometimes felt that I was not fully responsible for the plot of The Flower Eater, but was instead channeling the story from some unseen, unknowable source. 

 Just the other day, while I was cooking, the sound of a squeaky kitchen cabinet triggered a new idea for a story. I’m intrigued by that idea and hope the inspiration sticks with me. I hope it continues to glitter in my mind, until I’m compelled to dig it up completely. Because, as someone once said, success is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. I have to force myself to do the actual work. But it’s so exciting and rewarding when you dig into the sands of imagination and finally pull forth that buried treasure.

M. LaRose is a Vermont author of paranormal romance, whose work is inspired by the mysteries of nature and human passion. You can follow her on Twitter @TheFlowerEater or on Facebook at: The Flower Eater by M. LaRose.