Inspiration and Aspiration
Pete Denton was kind enough to nominate me for a Very Inspiring Blogger award. Normally I make a total laugh out of these kinds of posts, jokes flying, puns bouncing around, and as many fun references as I can shoehorn into the post. Today I’d like to be a bit more serious about it, but I promise that I won’t get too serious.
I’d like to talk for a minute about inspiration and aspiration. There’s a reason. I’ve been told by a few people now that my writing journey, as documented in this blog, inspires them to want to write more, or to just sit down and start, to push themselves. I’m glad to know that I can touch people with what, I’ll be honest, often seems to me like an entirely narcissistic blog. I mean, I only talk about my writing. I don’t tell people how they should write or what they should do, don’t offer advice or any of that, partly because I believe that the answers to a lot of questions are different for everyone, which means that the things I talk about working for me may not work for everyone who might read it. This space is all about me, and I don’t even really use it for the usual author blog purpose of promoting a book or platform. I started Word Flows because I wanted a place to talk about my writing. I never thought anyone would pay attention, let alone follow and draw inspiration from it. I can’t tell you how incredible and sometimes humbling it is that you all keep coming back. Thank you.
That said, I’ve spent a surprising amount of time trying to think about why I seem to inspire people. I’m not used to being a source of inspiration, you see. I think a lot of that is the twenty years or so I spent battling serious depression in a war I only recently seem to have made some headway on. Depressed people aren’t that inspiring, partly because it’s hard to understand the daily struggle that goes into them being on their feet and functional. It’s a very internal struggle after all. I can tell you that writing all the time in some sense is part of my victory over the big D, and the way that worked is part of what I wanted to talk about here.
Inspiration is a good thing. We all like to be inspired by someone else, to look at them and say “Wow, that’s amazing. I should be doing that, I should be moving toward my own goal.” It’s a great thing if it’ll get us started, but there needs to be more. The reason I say that is that inspiration, by definition, comes from external sources, which means that, while it is great, it can also be gone, used up, and requires being refreshed by sources you have no control over. I used to get inspired by others about writing, be it a friend working on their own book, or the story of a newly published author, and then I’d go on a tear for a couple of months, get to a certain point and then run out of steam, because there wasn’t a new source of inspiration immediately available and I’d gotten all I was going to get out of the old one. There was nothing to bridge that gap between sources of inspiration.
What’s going on in my life right now feels different. I had to go to my dictionary to make sure I understood correctly the term that keeps coming to mind when I think about the last nearly seven months. Yes, Miss Electronic Toys has a giant paper reference dictionary. It’s fun to flip around. But as I was saying before I so rudely interrupted myself, the term that fits what my life is now about is Aspiration. Since early last October, I have aspired and continue to do so. I’ve aspired to do a number of things, most of them long term in nature, and one of them is definitely writing. It’s certainly the right term for this phase of my life.
Why aspire, rather than inspire? Because of where the drive comes from, and I truly believe that it’s what’s behind the amount that I’ve accomplished in these last several month, the commitment with which I now approach my writing and how much I’ve learned. Aspiration comes from within. It needs refreshment from no one else, because it’s about what you want and how much you want it. Those things are what drive forward those who aspire. I want to be a Writer, published, with people reading and enjoying my work. I ASPIRE to be that. I want it so badly that, after my marriage broke down and I needed to re-evaluate my life and priorities, I turned my mind and energy over to that goal completely. I’m going for it and giving it my all, not because other people are doing great things, but because I want to do this thing, for myself.
That doesn’t mean I’m not inspired by others, that I don’t draw strength from the support of others. I still look at the achievements of those around me and let it help propel me forward. The point that I’m trying to make here is that you need more than that. It can’t be the only source of your drive for anything, but most especially for writing. The community of writers here on WordPress is fabulous. I love it and it does inspire me and help me through the rougher days, but the life of a writer, the act of writing is still mostly a solitary one, which is why that aspiration is so important, why the drive has to come from within, because many days, you will be all you have. On that day when you feel like crap, or everything you write seems terrible to you and you want to scream and delete it all (I call those Bad Word Days, like a bad hair day only worse), what you will have to make you sit there anyway and keep banging on the keyboard will be yourself and your aspiration to be a writer. On that day, it will have to be enough, but if you let it drive you every day, it will be.
I’m finding that aspiration is like a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it gets and the more you can rely on it. So I want to encourage everyone who might read this to find it within yourself. We all have it. There is at least one thing that each of us aspire to be or have, though it is different for everyone. Go out and find it, then pursue it with every ounce of yourself. I’m finding that there is nothing to regret when you do that, except maybe not doing sooner, and the nature of time is such that you can’t go back and change things anyway. Yes, we all have challenges, we all have limited spare time and other commitments that demand our attention and energy, some of our choosing and some dictated to us by others. But when you go after the thing that you aspire to, you’ll find that it’s easier to figure out your priorities for the discretionary time you do have. I hardly play video games anymore and don’t watch much TV these days because my aspiration to be a Writer made me decide to spend time on the things that pushed me toward achieving that goal, rather than on things that didn’t. I don’t regret it, especially when I look at what I’ve achieved as a result. I look to the future where I see more accomplishments possible, driven by the thing that I want above all else.
I hope that you all find and achieve your aspirations, aided by the inspiration you draw from others. Here are my 7 that I draw inspiration from, for a variety of reasons, both writing and non-writing related.