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8.11.2009

Finding Inspiration

It's funny where inspiration comes from. I recently asked my students to write on the topic and the answers ran the gamut. They wrote about music, family, weather, heartache, adversity, tragedy and triumph. They wrote about soccer coaches and piano teachers and single mothers and superheroes. They wrote about clouds and oceans and mountains and various gods and faiths.

It was a neat assignment, both for them and for me.

I started to think about the stuff I've been writing lately and it occurred to me that I find inspiration in life's oddities. I see it in the one boat leaning hard while all the others are moored perfectly upright. I see it in the aisle of cheap plastic novelty toys--rubber dog shit and joy buzzers and phony x-ray glasses--in the back of the corner gas station. I see inspiration in the folktales of mermaids that haunt the springs that meander through Central Florida and in the roadside fruit shacks and barbecue joints that mark time on our state's back roads.

I recently began to get a series of strange charts and graphs in my campus mailbox. They were odd because the legends for these charts and graphs never identified what was being measured; there was no identifying information about where they came from.

It was odd, but I'm glad they showed up (and I eventually found their origin). I wrote a story about it, and I think it's pretty good. We'll see how it turns out.

I would have been pleased as punch if I kept getting those bizarre charts and graphs. Sometimes, a little mystery in life is the greatest source of inspiration.

So I'll put it out there: Where do you find inspiration?

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