Inspiration or Magic?

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Where does a poem come from? Where does it begin? When does a thought become a creation?

The same applies to prose. Where does that unplanned story strand come from? How, in a split second, can a character fall in love without first consulting it’s creator?

Is it inspiration?

Or Magic?

I was walking the dogs yesterday. We went to our usual haunt which is generally the big field down by the river. The weather was average for Scotland in January, dreich, windy with a wee bit mizzle in the air, and damn cold. I was trying (and failing) to stop the dogs eating rabbit shit, while being careful not to step awkwardly on the uneven ground. I wasn’t thinking about anything in particular, in fact, I was just looking. I was looking at my feet, at the dogs, at the snowy mountains, and the people on the old railway in the distance. Suddenly, a sentence popped into my head.

I miss the sea.

This was followed by:

I miss the sea fi when a wis wee

Fair enough, I hear you say. Don’t we all miss what we can’t have at the moment in time, the pandemic has taken so much. And besides this, I’ve seen and heard references to the sea over he past few days through various mediums, so perhaps this subconsciously inspired me. The thing is, I haven’t written any poetry or prose since the start of December 2020. There is a number of reasons for this, (as discussed in previous posts, and I’m not going to bore you with them now), but I wasn’t looking for inspiration, or magic for that matter. And perhaps you don’t think the above lines could be classed as poetry, I mean, the two lines are statements aren’t they? Perhaps. But then the next line came to me in a rhythm so perfect, that I pulled my phone from my pocket and recorded it. This is written in Midlothian vernacular.

I miss sand
stickin to ma broon sauce piece

Is it sounding as epic to you as it is to me? Try saying it out loud, with a pause after sand, and the second line rolling of your tongue.

Or if you understand measuring meter in poetry:

I miss sand (strong, weak, strong)

Sti-ckin to ma broon sauce piece (strong-strong, weak. weak, strong, weak, strong).

Okay, you might not be as excited about the birth of my new poem as I am, but watch this space.

Back to my question though…

Did the poem arrive because of inspiration, or was it magic? My opinion is that it’s a bit of both.

Let me give you another example. Whilst working on my current novel in progress, Little Red Rowing Boat, I have become more and more aware of how often a new thread/strand appears during the writing process. This thread is unplanned, it might be an unexpected character appearing, a childhood flashback, and often a key plot line that materialises from no-where. I often find myself in a trance like state when I’m writing, or deep writing. This is when the magic begins. I generally do plan my writing before I sit down; I pretty much know the direction the story will flow, but regardless of my intention, there’s a genie in my head that sprinkles star dust on my fingers while I write and weird shit happens. Is it just me?

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I would like to know your thoughts on this matter. Please leave a comment.

Is it a Genie or a Cloud?

The night sky in Killin

One of the best things about living in the Scottish Highlands in the wee detached village of Killin, is the night sky. It’s pretty dark at night, with little light pollution and the brightest moon I’ve ever seen. When there is a scattering of clouds, however, the sky puts on the most spectacular show of patterns and shapes, it’s like art. When the days are clear and the rain is at bay, we have a new exhibition to indulge in every night, and often with twinkling stars dotted in between. That’s not to say it’s not freezing, wrapping up is essential for sky gazing. The picture that accompanies this post was taken in December 2020. It was taken on my phone and zoomed in. I couldn’t help but notice a genie smoking his pipe and pondering what’s to become of this bloody pandemic.

What do you see?

The night sky is a great place to start for writing inspiration. Perhaps on a clear night, get yourself wrapped up and venture out into the dark.

Listen
Look
Smell
Feel

By tuning into the senses, you might be surprised at what the night has to offer. For me, on a night like the one in December, I would hear the hoo-hoo of the owl, the swishing of the trees on the old railway, the creaking of the car port roof, possibly a car in the distance bit mostly not.

The sky can be anything from a yellow oil slick, to a blue fox stretching lazily between the seven sisters and the plough.

There’s usually a smell of a burning wood in the air, the smell of wet grass, sweet frost or mulch. Sometimes even the smell of laundry from someone’s tumble dryer.

I will feel the sharpness of the air as it reaches my lungs, the sting of cold on my cheeks, my feet on the ground, my heart beating, the clothes on my skin.

This is present moment awareness, a moment of mindful contemplation. All of it relevant as I stand completely alive, sharing the sky with those brave enough to be out too.

Happy writing folks.