Where Do You Get Your Inspiration?



Photo by Jeffrey Abrahams

ROSALYN DREXLER — I’m a worker. I don’t wait for inspiration. I don’t know what inspiration is. A certain connection happens as you get deeper into the work. You are not really there. You are a state of mind: at one with the creation (book or painting, etc.). Thus I think inspiration comes afterwards, not before. However, a contract and a substantial advance in payment is a great inducement.

SHERRY KRAMER — The impulse to acknowledge the sacred or magical or non-rational aspect of writing is pretty strong. If writing didn’t connect me with some part of the world, a connection that gave me great peace and joy, I don’t think I’d do it. It sounds both obvious and embarrassing to say it, but I feel really alive when I’m writing.

Now I have students and friends who I call self-torturers—they’re people who never have that euphoric state, writers who are anxious anxious anxious at every step, from the doubt and worry about the work before it’s written, all through the writing, and after it’s done. I feel bad about this, but with students, once I figure out that this is pretty much their relationship to their work—that the anxiety and worry isn’t a side effect of writing but a necessary pre-condition of it—I stop seeing it as something dysfunctional, and I try to get them to see it that way too. Everybody finds their way into the world of their work differently. There’s no wrong way.


T.C. BOYLE — For Talk Talk, I had to know about ID theft, and so I got every book I could on the subject, how you do it, the horror stories, the cases, and so on. But it wasn’t long until there was no depth to the story. It’s about your identity; how do you know who you are? You have language. That’s how you can name yourself, how you can think. I happened to go to my dentist when I was researching the book. He was divorced and had his eye out for the ladies, and he said, “The most gorgeous woman in the world was sitting in this chair before you, and you know what? She was deaf.” Then he got out the jackhammer and the drill, and I realized that my heroine would be deaf. I began to see the possibilities. If my character were deaf, she’d have a special language, different brain patterns. The deaf from birth are from a different culture, with different brain patterns to make that special language.

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