I promised to post about what inspires me as a writer. The Shorter Oxford gives several definitions of inspiration, starting with ‘Divine prompting or guidance.’ I’m unsure if there are any deities, major or minor, whispering in my ear, so I’ll go for definition 2: ‘The prompting of the mind to exalted thoughts, to creative activity etc.’ This one neatly sidesteps the issue of who or what is doing the prompting.
Writers have a tendency to talk about ‘the muse’, and sometimes to endow said muse with a personality of his or her own. In the Greek tradition there were nine muses. Calliope (epic poetry), Clio (history), Melpomene (tragedy) and Thalia (comedy) are all relevant to the craft of writing. If I had a personal ‘muse of writing’ she would probably take the form of an owl. She’d be self-contained, clever, and not particularly tolerant of lazy thinking. I’d have a dog as my ‘muse of play’, essential as a balance to the serious, working muse.
Not being of a scientific bent, I won’t attempt a discussion of how inspiration relates to brain function. The fact that some people end up as writers, composers, artists or choreographers, while others become accountants, plumbers or truck drivers is probably as much a matter of nurture as it is nature. And where does creativity start and end, anyway? [Read more…]