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  • Writer's picturePearl Lorentzen

The tail of inspiration

When writing, sometimes I'll snatch hold of the thread of an idea.

At times, these threads slip away like this sparrow hopping away from the camera.

Likely a sparrow hopping away from the camera. Photo by Pearl Lorentzen.

I can't grasp the idea. I mull it over and tug at different parts of it like a tangled mass of yarn, but it doesn't come apart. I mutter to myself, pace around town, and pull my hair.

The idea refuses to be written. It is out of focus and fleeting.

Often, with trial and error, a bit of luck, and a lot of bull-headedness, the story or poem triggered by the idea makes the long journey from unformed concept into concrete understandable words.

At other times, ideas are like the sparrow's friend who sticks around and poses for the camera. The words flow and the first draft of the story or poem seems almost effortless.

Female white throated sparrow. Photo by Pearl Lorentzen.

I much prefer the second form of inspiration. However, some of my bests writing has come at the end of a long struggle with form and content.

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