Friday, 24 July 2015

One percent inspiration: what makes your writing tick?

Whether you write for pleasure, for a living, for the hell of it, because you can't help it, we all know inspiration's an elusive butterfly that can be hard to harness.
It doesn't take a genius to know what Thomas Alva Edison said is true: "Genius is 1% inspiration, 99% perspiration."

But in between the sweat and buckling down to write in order to write, each of us snatches at precious personal muses that help to place us in the moment, with our words, our characters, our plotlines, our message, our soul-sharing.

When I felt a bit blocked with my second novel this week, I woke one morning from a dream encounter with my central characters. They reminded me not to be timid and self-editing while the first draft is humming along. Feel the fear and tap away regardless! Characters that are real flesh and blood to me, closer than family, will reassure or challenge me by living the next twist in the tale with me.

Yorkshire bard Ted Hughes's poem "The Thought Fox" explains the way inspiration came to him as a writer. You can hear the poet reading his poem here

Set on the Yorkshire Coast like my novel, below is my own latest poem trying to capture how one flash of inspiration for my work in progress came to me in the waking watches of the morning. 


They sailed through me in dream last night
My hero and my heroine,
His eyes reflect rainbows over marsh
Her scent of quay and salted sheets

Watched my hovering hand over blank page
Traced their fingers through knots of plot,
Unpicking and beachcombing unwritten words
Lips smiling at unmet characters

Over us, gulls of Chatterthrow
Wheeling and skimming the coffee cliffs,
Kittiwake held against her breast
As he whispers his breath under trembling wings

His palm facing the centred earth,
Her palm raised to the sky and spray,
My hand cradled between their warmth
Telling their story in woven waves

Guiding my grasp to the tiller of tales
Under the hush and howl of the fret
Cogs connect and the synapse sparks
Compass and craft over bar and block

(c) Joyce Barrass 2015

You can get my first novel, set on the peat moors and canals of South Yorkshire, "Goatsucker Harvest" here (some of the reviews may persuade you to dive in - it's FREE on Kindle Unlimited & crazy cheap on Kindle or in Paperback in UK & USA & some other parts of the planet.)

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