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
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
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?