Where do we go to find a well of inspiration? Julia Cameron had the brilliant idea of the “artist’s date.” In her book The Artist’s Way, Cameron suggests that we take a few hours every week to explore something we know nothing about. Go watch a glassblower work. Try your hand at throwing a pot or drawing. Take a picnic to the mountains. Alone. You take these risk adventures by yourself. The level at which we are willing to risk embarrassment or failure is different when we are among strangers; when we think no one we know is watching. It’s a brilliant idea and it works. But Cameron wrote her book long before there was such a thing as facebook or social networking,
If we are going to spend time online either actively participating or lurking in the shadows reading, we might as well use it as a source of inspiration. And, depending on the friends you choose, you might find a well of information and even inspiration there. I realize we use facebook as an escape quite often, but I have a lot of thoughtful artistic friends who post ideas in the form of quotes or photos. Some who like to philosophize begin dialogues that bestir the imagination and force us to think, or post a link that leads to an interesting article. We can choose to use facebook as a source of inspiration as opposed to a time-burner. When you read something that touches you, go to “Word” instead and begin writing.
Recently, the “pay it forward” idea took hold on facebook. Someone would offer to give you and four others a gift of some sort if you promised to gift 5 others. Artists took it a step up. On my own page, artist and puppeteer Jo Ann Kaminsky offered to hand craft five gifts if the receivers promised to hand craft their own gifts to five more people. Knowing Jo Ann and her husband Hank, and the incredible artists they are, I immediately signed on, asking if a poem to another person would count as handmade. She said yes and I put it out there. Within a day, I had five takers. Several wanted love poems for their heartthrobs, one desired a sexy poem for herself, and one was “anything.”
I created some questions which would tell me something about each of these people or their loved ones and sent them by message. Within their answers I discovered the poems. What was their favorite color? What foods did they like? What animal did they consider a totem? What was falling in love like? What were their best memories? What songs did they listen to? A handful of questions opened up a barrage of answers and I had more than enough material with which to work. The hard part was deciding what my focus would be. So far, I have written two of the poems. Since I retain the rights on the poems, I can both give them away and keep them, which is not possible for most gifters. I will share a poem with you that I wrote a male friend for his beloved wife. He told me she loved dragonflies. Then he said she was a dragonfly. He told me a lot more about her, but my heart latched onto that image and, like the dragonfly from the nymph, the poem was born. I did the research and Dragonfly Love emerged. (Link to the poem: http://hillpoet.com/?page_id=817 )
For my poem recipients, I requested they give away five gifts that would inspire creativity in others, suggesting found objects or perhaps something they, too, had created. They didn’t have to be artists or poets to pay it forward though. They just had to know how to find inspiration in life. And so I am following my own request as I share this post with you. Find inspiration everywhere. Then pay it forward.
—Mendy Knott is a writer, poet and author of the poetry collection A Little Lazarus (Half Acre Press, 2010). To order your copy of A Little Lazarus directly from the author, please click here. Or, if cookbooks are more your style, get a copy of Mendy’s family cookbook Across the Arklatex at www.twopoets.us.