I’ve never been able to take inspiration from success stories. I know the point of them is to say, “I did it and so can you!” but for some reason, hearing the tales of other writers doesn’t give me a lot of hope. In fact, it’s usually the opposite.
While I’m certainly envious, that’s not what weighs me down. I’m not bitter at the other person’s success; I simply don’t feel like I’m going to have to same outcome.
And, honestly, it’s true. You can’t replicate success; you can only learn from it.
I can’t have Brandon Sanderson’s story, or Brent Weeks’, or J. K. Rowling’s. Yes, I can learn valuable tips on writing, platform building, publishing, etc., but my journey won’t be the same as theirs.
Doesn’t that just curdle your Kool-Aid? I’m far too formulaic for my own good; I want to do this and get that. But art is an adventure and I’ve always had a hard time with adventures.
Which is ironic because adventures have been the best parts of my life. Going to a mini-seminiary and trusting God to provide for my finances, having a child without a certain future, moving to Denver, all things that have brought me closer to God and given me greater joy.
But writing? I just want to make it. I get tired of reading about how great others have it not because I want to tear them down, but because I want to be there with them and I’m not. It just makes me want to stop writing, smash my computer, and go eat donuts.
That’s my problem, though: always comparing myself to some standard, some place I “should be” but am not yet. I have a PhD in shouldawouldacoulda. It’s like I don’t want to write unless I have the perfect circumstances, circumstances only available in hindsight.
Thankfully, I do have one inspiration that keeps me going: art.
Reading a good book, watching a good movie, listening to a good song, or playing a good video game makes me want to run to my computer and hammer out all my ideas.
It’s weird. When I read about an author’s humble beginnings and rise to success, something that’s totally relatable, I say to myself, “That can’t happen to me.” But when I read a one-of-a-kind masterpiece of fiction, I think, “I want to do that!”
I once learned that I’m a task-oriented introvert, so perhaps that’s it. People aren’t my forte, projects are. In a way, that’s a weakness; you have to be good with people or get good to develop and keep an audience. But it’s far more natural for me to come alongside a project.
Well, God help me to love people more than I do now. In the meantime, I know I won’t stop writing, no matter how depressed I get. There are just too many good stories out there.
Thanks for reading. How do you find inspiration?
4 thoughts on “A Creator’s Journey #2–Inspirations”
Oh, I feel you. It’s especially painful when you’re so happy with what you’ve done and no one else seems to feel the same way. You fall in love with something and people are like, “Oh, it’s all right.”
I find inspiration through music, though. While I can’t actually listen to music while I write, so many songs are the source of so many mental images. I just get lost in the music and picture stuff happening, and then not only do I have the picture I want to write, I have the emotion that goes with it. So it’s equal parts motivation and inspiration. I have picked up quite a few things from books, and I think reading has expanded my imagination and my capacity to think of things, but… when it comes down to it, music is my thing.
Aw, yeah, I feel that. I can’t listen to music while I write (or if I do, it hurts my writing) but I can get lost in music, too, and plan out endless scenes on my iPod. Same with the emotion. Dude, high-five, fist bump, hug it out. I’m right there. Why don’t you email me at email@example.com and tell me what you’re working on?
That’s why I get annoyed when my folks compare me to my peers. I knew that in my conscious mind, it’s supposed to mean, “See, you can do it too!” but I often wondered why it annoyed me so. It’s like you mentioned above, “my journey won’t be the same as theirs”, and it’s true for people not in the arts fields too. Sometimes it seems like other people are following this nearly neat line in their career goals, and making their parents so proud. I have a lot of strengths but for some reason, they’re often well-hidden.
I can and do find inspiration in success stories, esp if their beginning is like mine or they share a lot of traits with me, then that grabs my attention. Even better is if I actually know the person personally; it somehow feels closer to home, like “yeah, this really could happen to me too”.
It’s always easier to walk with somebody than behind them.