inspiration + perspiration

it started in my childhood, what with my parents and older siblings reading books to me before i could read on my own. it continued as i read everything on my shelf and begged sister J to pick up more books for me at the library. (she had good taste. plus, i wanted to be just like her. even if i didn’t understand the high school references of sweet valley high.) it was furthered when i would see my dad sitting on the couch reading, sister J in her room on her bed reading, my mom standing at the kitchen counter reading a quick magazine article before starting dinner, and brother G? he reads now, but my memories of him revolve around him playing nintendo or shooting hoops outside. and from the point when little E was born, the only time you could get her to put a book down is when she was done and putting it down to pick up another one.

anyways, my point is that in my family, reading is genetic. everyone reads and so it was inevitable i would too.

but it wasn’t until JK Rowling and Harry Potter came along (i picked up the series right after book 4 was published) that my flights of fancy of writing a kids book solidified. suddenly, it was okay to want to write for kids, tweens, and teens. and suddenly, it was okay that i was READING those books. (though it did take me until a few years ago to publicly admit i was reading YA and MG books because i LIKE them, not just because i was doing RESEARCH.)

Jo was recently on Oprah. it’s an amazing and rare interview, so i wanted to share it with you all. it’s broken up into 6 parts, so you don’t have to watch all at once.  click here. also, i had a huge run of luck in 2008 and i managed to score tickets to harvard university’s graduation, which featured one JK Rowling as the keynote speaker. that phenomenal speech about the power of failure is here.

so, i’ve got my (10%) inspiration (and you’ve got some too) which means that according to thomas edison, it’s now time to get down to the (90%) perspiration part. and, oh me oh my, i can do that with the best of them. i just have to make sure it stems from slaving over the keyboard…

also, i just came across this post by victoria schwab. not only are the pictures beautiful, but (umm, this is embarrassing to admit) the idea that you can use outside pictures and songs to inspire your creative juices is a REALLY good one. i guess i’ve been a bit too hard on myself by thinking i had to come up with everything on my own. and that? well, it dries up the juices quite quick. (that’s what she said). but now that i know i can (and should) have a few key things to get me into the proper story writing space, to get me into the minds of my characters, I’M ON IT.

what’s your inspiration? or, rather, how do you find it? and do you perspire literally or figuratively when doing something creative?

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12 Responses to “inspiration + perspiration”

  1. Linda G. Says:

    Isn’t Victoria great? I just love her. :)

    I get my inspiration from the oddest places. A vanity license plate actually triggered the book that got me my agent. It was so odd–I saw a name on a plate, and this whole character just sprang to life in my head & the whole book followed. It was like it was there all along, just waiting for the secret word to unlock the files.

    Not that I didn’t work bloody hard to actually write it…that’s where the perspiration came in. ;)

    • abby mumford Says:

      you mean to tell me that a vanity license plate triggered a character which inspired a novel that garnered you your place in the wolf pack??? that’s awesome. i love knowing that!

      i’ll have to really keep my eyes peeled from now on. who knows, maybe i’ll be inspired by the produce at the grocery store? or, hey, maybe i’ll meet my future husband there?

      way to inspire me, Linda! now, do you have any ideas on how to fix this pesky perspiration problem….

  2. gina Says:

    You totally TWSS-ed yourself. That’s what she said. See what I did there? Hee.

    To answer your question. Hm. In terms of non-writerly pursuits, walking/biking has been the source of a lot of a-ha! moments. (This may be more about clarity than inspiration.) I think it’s the combo of alone time, observing nature, and basically unplugging myself from computer/phone. *cue in babbling brook*

    I might have to come back to this since I really can’t remember the last time I was truly truly inspired.

    • abby mumford Says:

      my last question to you all was TWSS worthy? i suppose it is. well played, pebbsie, well played.

      i’ve heard many people say they need to unplug to get inspired, but i find if i’m running or something, all i can focus on is the next breath. but maybe if i go sit near a babbling brook, it’ll unlock something in my brain.

      at the very least, hopefully i won’t be inspired to go pee.

  3. Greg Says:

    What you don’t realize is that I had pages of War & Peace and Crime & Punishment taped to my basketball while I was out shooting hoops. And I had electronic copies of Atlas Shrugged and The Stand digitally scanned into the original NES. I was way ahead of my time. Should have patented it as the “Nintendle”.

    Anyway – I read good.

    -“brother G”

    • abby mumford Says:

      so you’re saying it was the pages of LOLITA that caused the baseball to ricochet off home plate and back into your face? makes so much sense now. you should be careful when mixing reading + sports, you know.

      also, the nintendle would have been a fabulous idea. talk about large print books. and also, you could have a read-a-loud book club where everyone reads the book at the same time. it would span days. possibly even weeks. yeah, good patent idea there, G.

  4. adriana Says:

    I have the opposite experience. I need external stimuli (oh dear, the innuendos are contagious today!!) — usually it’s other people’s words or music. Occasionally something visual would inspire me, but that’s rare. But the silence/brook babble does not work for me. I’m too restless to be able to enjoy quiet thinking time.

    Also, I’m not afraid to steal ideas :) I steal other people’s lines and images and titles all the time, for poems. And other people’s stories, too :) I’m shameless! I think it’s a great way to get started when you have no ideas of your own. And inevitably by the time I’m finished with my own creation, the original line is either dropped entirely or transformed so much that it’s now my own.

    And lastly, well played, Greg! :)

  5. Linda G. Says:

    Waaah! Blogger ate my post. It was truly inspired, too. Plus, I really sweated over it.

    • abby mumford Says:

      i regurgitated your comments. blogger can’t best me. nor can wordpress.

      man, you’re inspiring my entire body now!

  6. grandpa Says:

    I testify to that truth of Rowling. In reviewing my life at this point I learned and applied far more from my failures and often this was true at work too. love, grandpa

    • abby Says:

      Rowling is a master, isn’t she? I’m glad I know now to take a closer look at my failures m, which means I’m one step closer to my own success. Thanks for pointing me in the right direction. :)

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