Every writer, every artist in another “official” medium, and every artist of life in general, needs inspiration. The good news is, inspiration is everywhere. The trick is to recognize it when we see it.
Today I saw inspiration in a new friend of mine. J. is about five feet tall, and weighs something like one hundred pounds soaking wet. He walks with a cane to support the half of his body that’s twisted from cerebral palsy. Before you go there, this is not a story about letting a disabled person remind those of us who are temporarily able-bodied about how lucky we are. This is about a true adventurer.
The manuscript I’m working on (slowly, painstakingly, scene by scene) is about a young girl who craves adventure. Her world seems all together too small for her; as she says, “in my nearly twelve years of life, there’s not a single place in this town I haven’t walked by, driven by, ridden my bicycle around, at least twelve hundred times.” Or something like that (hey, it’s in revision). So I’m looking for adventurers to provide inspiration for me, and for this young girl.
J. is one, no doubt.
J.’s readying himself for a cross-state trip to visit family and celebrate his birthday. He’ll have to deal with buses, stations, schedules, tickets, connections, banks, phones, strangers, passengers, stops, starts, drivers, luggage, money, food, roads, and more. He’s eager, ready to roll. My job: stock him up with jelly beans for the ride. He thinks I’m being good to him, but I know the truth – J.’s giving me all the inspiration I need to craft the road trip my main character will take in her novel. Like J., she’s going to face all kinds of challenges. Like J., she might have to “kick some a**” at some point. (When I teased J. that I might give his jelly beans to someone else, he warned me he’d kick my a**. I have to say, I believe him.)
But I’m still not being quite fair to J. His adventure doesn’t start with this bus trip. He treats life as an adventure, and if you’re on his crew, you’ll always know the milestones and markers coming up. “You better pay your rent this week!” “Time to take your snow tires off!” “Don’t forget what you gotta do!”
Which reminds me – time to get back to the adventure of writing another novel. Thanks, J. Hope you don’t mind if I sneak a few jelly beans to fuel my own trip.