Tuesday, October 2, 2012


I doubt I’m the only one who finds inspiration in the oddest of places. A withered flower with the imprint of a shoe in the dirt surrounding it. An old man sitting alone, hunched over a bowl of soup in a diner. A muddy, toy truck abandoned in the middle of a graveyard. Inspiration is about as predictable as Maryland weather, but the moment it strikes is usually well worth the wait.

Inspiration provides a reason to watch award-worthy films and to read thought-provoking novels. Isn’t it the reason we love music? To be moved. To revel in a memory. To be motivated to dance, to exercise, or to take a photo. There are few feelings greater than the spark ignited by a muse. Sparks are easiest to see in the darkest of places; maybe that’s why I’m inspired by darker things.

I had a conversation with a media specialist yesterday, and she posed a question I’ve considered often during the past few months. Where did I find my inspiration for Of Breakable Things? It should be a simple question, but it’s difficult to pinpoint one single source. She assumed a novel about dead children would have been inspired by my own personal loss. I am thankful to say it was not. I blame it on my wild imagination.

However, there is a tree outside of my son’s room, and when the room was a nursery instead of a shrine to super heroes, a rocking chair was positioned next to the window. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a million times: the kid hates sleeping, so as a baby I had to rock him incessantly to save my sanity. Sitting in that chair, staring out the window, there were two branches which had somehow intertwined. They twisted like a braid and seemed to have no choice but to continue to grow together. Or die together.

And so the questions stewed in my head: if two lives were so closely intertwined, how would that affect their choices? What if the lives belonged to two children? What if they loved one another? What if one was dying? What would happen to them? Where would they end up? Would they find each other?

Alex Ash and Chase Lasalle were born.

It’s funny. I have no idea what happened to those branches because when spring arrived that year, they were hidden by large, teardrop-shaped leaves. Oddly enough, the following winter when the tree became bare once again, I searched and searched without success. I could not find the “star-crossed” branches (or so I’d named them.)

Maybe they gave up. Maybe they were chopped down by our persnickety community association. Maybe I was simply that sleep deprived, and they never existed at all.

The purpose here is that the most seemingly insignificant of things can provide the most wonderful sources of inspiration. Four hundred pages worth of inspiration.

Where do you find yours?


  1. I always find other people's inspiration interesting. I have a hard time pinpointing the exact source of mine, though ;) A lot of times, it'll start with something simple--an image or lyrics from a song, but then over months that piece of inspiration will morph into something totally different.

    Beautiful post :)

    1. Thank you, Angela! I agree! It's such a tough question because there is no simple answer. But I do love how the mind can take a source of inspiration and toss it around until it is satisfied!

  2. Your writing inspires me! I just seem to get lost in your words when I read your posts. You amaze me, my friend.

  3. Hi Amy,

    I'm impressed that you found inspiration for an entire novel in two branches. That's awesome.

    Since I write historical fiction, most of my inspiration comes from history, old photographs and buildings and/or family stories. As you can see, not as interesting as your source of inspiration :-)