When I was in highschool, my creative writing teacher gave us an assignment in style. Choose a writer, a poet perhaps, and a work that they had written, and write something in their style. I loved the assignment and couldn’t wait to get started.
I chose Walt Whitman, portions of Song of Myself, and after reading and rereading it, studying it and letting it sink into my heart, wrote my own Song. The words flowed so easily, infused by the inspiration brought about by his words. Images flooded through my mind, carried by ink, and laid themselves out on the page. I felt freed and full, buoyed by Whitman’s words. The words were my own, but they were in a slightly different voice. And since then, I have kept a small part of Whitman with me, letting him inform my writing and settle into my style, changing it ever so slightly, the color of my voice deepening a shade in response.
This inspiration happens in everything, does it not?
We fashion our lives, our writing, our faith, our mothering with bits and pieces of all of those that come before us, connecting them to our true voice, our true purpose, and making a unique collage. We grow, sprouting roots in one direction and branches in another, until all is a tangled, wonderful mess of inspiration and influence. Times of hibernation, winter, are replaced by vigorous explosions of life. Growth in a never-ending cycle.
Who is it that gives pieces to you? Who do you let seep into your heart and mind?
At different times we may need to prune. The influences from my non-Christian youth no longer speak to my adult heart; maturity requires movement away from childish choices and inspirations. At times I have felt the desire, the pull, to keep holding on to people and places that lie deep within, even if they no longer fit. Even if their branches have withered and are simply draining nutrients needed elsewhere.
Can I discern what to prune, what to keep? What to graft in and what to discard?
I am inspired by so many. Wonderful writers, and mothers, and friends, and spiritual mentors, leading the way, paving with beautiful words and vision and dreams. I want to gain from all of them, to grab hold of a tiny piece of their passion and spirit as I continue to create my life-in-progress.
And in the process, perhaps I can be an inspiration to others. The cycle of giving and receiving the jewels of our influence, one to another, is like breath to an artist. And we are all artists. Creating as the Creator intended, best in community. Woven into one whole, each having a unique purpose, yet subtly impressing upon each other from every side, drawing out the best by the simple fact of our presence.
The greatest artists, and writers, and musicians had mentors and created in the mentor’s style- to learn it, to internalize it- then broke from that mold to become better artists themselves. To better become who they were meant to become. And carried, always, the pieces with them. Forever changed.
Who influences you? How does God use inspiration from others in your life?
Find Your Voice– an inspired look at becoming your own as a writer