Finding Inspiration

May is all about Inspiration here on HerKentucky. 

Last week, our writers posted about the mothers who'd inspired them and the many ways that Kentucky has inspired their own parenting decisions. As we planned the editorial calendar for the rest of the month, we talked about additional ways to spotlight the Kentucky women who've inspired us -- mothers and daughters, graduates and brides. It's a really well put-together plan; I'm quite proud of it. Speaking of which, did you see the awesome blog entry I wrote yesterday?

No, you sure didn't. Because I've, as my grandmother would say, run plum out of inspiration. I just have nothing to say. For a "word girl", as my editrix at Ace calls me, that's a bad situation indeed.  Recently, I've been working on a novel, a couple of freelance projects, and some essays. And, for the past few days, they've all been on hold. I just have nothing to say. I'm in serious need of inspiration.

I've been thinking a lot about inspiration lately. As a writer, I find that my work is intimately tied into my geographical surroundings. I write more about traditions and history when I'm in the mountains, and my work is ever-so-slightly lighter when I'm in the city. If I leave a piece incomplete in transit, I have trouble making the parts match tonally. As a writer, I'm obsessed with the implications of regionalism. It's not surprising that I count Mr Faulkner and Pat Conroy as literary heroes. Simply put, I think that "Place" is the key to most stories. (By the way, who wants to road trip to Nashville with me next week to go see that Chinese-American New Yorker who wrote a bluesy novel about the Mississippi Delta, which he's never seen? He's doing a Q&A at Parnassus, and I have so many questions for him.)

I take so much inspiration from the accents and customs around me and the landscape that frames them. Maybe I shouldn't try so hard to force inspiration; maybe it's just there. Maybe it's all around me if I just sit back and observe. Makes sense, right?

The other day, I stood in my mother's yard with my iPhone for several minutes, trying to capture the perfect photo of a butterfly in the lilac bush. It was patient, and so was I, and eventually the whole thing came together in a stunning fashion. 

But, you know, the other handful of pictures were pretty damned good as well. And, if the butterfly hadn't fully opened its wings, or if it had never turned to just the right angle, it still would have been a beautiful and perfect moment. I suppose I should look at inspiration the same way -- the perfect circumstances may never arise. The perfect inspiration likely isn't out there; maybe there are plenty "perfectly good enough" moments to kick me into gear. 

What about y'all? Where do you find your inspiration?