Despite my best intentions, 2017 so far has fallen short of the roaring, productive writing year I envisioned at the end of 2016. Whatever the cause—post-holiday-hustle weariness, flu, mid-winter doldrums—my creative well has been in serious need of refilling.
In recent weeks, by chance, I found a bit of inspiration and renewed energy in a Christmas gift and a dinner invitation.
The gift: Born to Run, Bruce Springsteen’s new memoir. I came late to Springsteen fandom—1984, the “Born in the USA” tour—and I’ve had an on-again, off-again love affair with his music since. The stories in his memoir about his life and rise to superstardom are interesting, but the pieces I find most fascinating are the descriptions of his creative process. This passage, for example, could apply to short stories or novels as easily as it does to songwriting:
The precision of the storytelling in these types of songs is very important. The correct detail can speak volumes about who your character is, while the wrong one can shred the credibility of your story. When you get the music and lyrics right, your voice disappears into the voices you’ve chosen to write about. (p. 401)
It’s inspiring to read the stories behind the songs, to get some insight into the creative process and struggles of an unquestionably successful and prolific artist.
The dinner invitation: An “authors and appetizers” fundraiser for the local chapter of Altrusa, an international service organization with a focus on literacy projects. A friend invited me to join her for this evening featuring Barbara Stuber, author of 2015 Kansas Notable Book Girl in Reverse, and Nancy Pickard, author of The Scent of Rain and Lightning (recently made into a motion picture and, fingers crossed, coming to nearby movie screens soon), and I’m so glad I did. Barbara and Nancy talked about their muses, research, and the roots of their stories. Their accounts struck just the right note and felt like the personal pep talk I needed to get past my recent bout of ennui.
The gift and the dinner invitation. Inspiration and encouragement. How do you re-energize your creativity when the well runs dry?