The Inconvenience of Inspiration

By: Mairead Loschi

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Ever since I was young, inspiration has been my fickle friend. Let me set the scene: it is a late August evening, just creeping toward dusk. My sister and I are playing on the front lawn of my Grandma’s summer home. My mom remembers me rushing in through the sliding screen door, dashing into the kitchen and yelling for a pen and paper with the explanation, “I just thought of something I want to write a poem about.” She remembers me jotting down the few thoughts that had struck me before returning to the front lawn to play.

Inspiration tends to strike me at the most inconvenient of moments: such as a stroke of genius in the shower… but I can’t write anything down because I’m dripping and there’s no notebook in the bathroom and my wet hands or hair would smudge the ink anyway. Or, a blinding realizations right before I fall asleep… but I’m snug in bed under layers of covers and the light switch is all the way across the room and I don’t feel like fumbling in the dark to write slanted lines that overlap when I read them in the daylight the next morning. Or, god forbid, if I hear the perfect line of dialogue from the old man in front of me at the cash register… but I have to put my groceries on the conveyor belt and exchange pleasantries with the cashier and sign the receipt and by the time I’m in the car the line is gone.

I have tried many different strategies in order to catch these moments of inspiration. I have bought an abundance of notebooks in order to write down my ideas, living under the deluded assumption that I would be able to fill every page with a writer-ly flourish. At this point, I have about five different notebooks – each with ten pages full of drastically different ideas. One of these volumes is a travel journal interspersed with sad one-liners, angry rants, and drafts of poems. Another notebook has the beginning of a short story cut off on the next page by a mundane to-do list that includes laundry and homework. I’ve tried to quickly capture moments of inspiration on my phone’s notepad because, well, I like to live dangerously (considering that I haven’t updated my phone in two years and I’ve ignored all of the push notification warnings Apple has tried to send my way). Of course, when my phone inevitably broke I lost a grand total of: 18 notes on my phone, 39 days of inspiration, 4 book quotes I love, 2 lines of dialogue for a new character, and 1 political rant.  But alas, where else was I supposed to put this information when the inclination to write arose?

I don’t pretend to have the solution for the inconvenience of inspiration, but I have settled upon a resolution for myself. I have decided to start avoiding distractions and improve my time management skills. I have recently taken both a social media and iphone hiatus. I have made a pact with myself that I will take time out during the day to get into a quiet headspace. And, if I continue to allow myself the time to work on my craft, I believe that inspiration will find me when I am ready to embrace it. I have gone back to writing by hand – I keep a pen on me at all times.  I have given notebooks a second chance with the intention of properly using them from now on. I accept that there will be a point when I will need to write something down and my phone will be my only option. However, from this point onward I will be transfering my notes to paper every night. I am learning to accommodate inspiration as it comes and to be overly prepared for its arrival.

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