A New Twist on an Old Note

Last night I watched Design Star on HGTV.

Two teams of five designers each designed bare enclosed terraces. Each of the designers chose a musical instrument for inspiration. So each terrace was to reflect the inspiration of five different musical instruments as interpreted by five different designers, yet each terrace had to work together as a whole. Much like a piece of music does with all the different parts played by different musicians.

One terrace accomplished this feat. The other did not.

As fiction writers, we experience this type of coming together in many ways.

Although we create our characters, we all know how pig-headed they can be. They take on lives of their own. It's our job to see that they follow their inspiration but still play well with others.

When we're fortunate enough to land a book contract, we work with possibly an agent, certainly at least one editor, maybe someone from sales who would like a ton of information ... yesterday. It's our job to make this work as a whole, not just part by part.

This all comes about because something inspires us. Maybe it's a trill in a piece of classical music. Or the solid bass in a hip-hop song.

Or maybe it isn't music that inspired our creation. Maybe it's a place you visit, a memory from a dream, a snippet of overheard conversation. Maybe it's like the grain of sand in an oyster. Something you had to write about because that grain of sand irritated the fire out of you. Anything can serve as our inspiration.

Someone much wiser than I am - Thomas Edison - said success is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration. All you who are writers know that's true. Don't be afraid to take your inspiration and sweat over it. A lot.

Whatever inspired you, hang onto it. Nurture it. Sweat over it. Watch it grow and develop between Once Upon a Time and They Lived Happily Ever After.


Mason Canyon said…
The inspiration of authors is what inspires us the readers to want more. Great post.

Thoughts in Progress
I still recall my inspiration!
Clarissa Draper said…
You are so right. I have lots of 10%s however and not enough time for the 90%s. And it's too hot for more perspiration! Loved the line: "Whatever inspired you, hang onto it. Nurture it. Sweat over it. "


Lydia Kang said…
I love that T. Edison quote! I forgot about it and I love the reminder. I'll hang on till I can't take it any more!
Carol Kilgore said…
Mason - Glad you enjoyed the post.

Alex - Wonderful!

Clarissa - Make a little time for the 90% - maybe 15 minutes a day like I'm working on my desk and binder.

Lydia - I'm hanging right with you :)
My problem has always been not with the inspiration, but with the completion. I'm great at starting projects, not so great at finishing them - unless I've got a hard deadline giving me its steely glare. Time to knuckle down.
Helen Ginger said…
You're right. Some people have an idea, but don't realize how much sweat is needed to learn the craft and complete the book, then edit and rewrite. To do all that you have to hang on to that inspiration.

Talli Roland said…
I hear this! Too many time people wait around for the 'inspiration' to strike for them to write. You need to sit down and put the hours in! Thanks for the reminder!
Carol Kilgore said…
Elspeth - I'm hardwired to finish. We're all different. I can't stand to leave something incomplete.

Helen - You're welcome. The inspiration becomes as important at the end as it was in the beginning.

Talli - Tushie to chair with a big bottle of superglue to keep it there :)
Joanne said…
It takes such dedication, doesn't it? And is so worth our efforts, every step of the way. I think that helps, too. One step at a time, as long as we keep taking them toward our goal!

P.S. Carol, thanks for the email, I'll be in touch later today.
Southpaw said…
So true. I never knew how pig-headed a character in a book could be, but my goodness they really are!
Aubrie said…
Great inspirational post! I need to make more sweat...
Donna B said…
What a great post. I found you via Alex Cavanaugh. I love HDTV. One of my favorites. I admire you tackling the monumental task of the DESK. Seems I am constantly trying to keep myself organized so I can find what I am looking for. Very frustrating. I absolutely ENVY your background!!! GORGEOUS! Talk about new horizons! Where did you get it? I am going to follow and look forward to more of your posts.
Carol Kilgore said…
Joanne - So right about step by step. I try to remember that when I want it all done now - LOL.

Southpaw - Tell me about it! I've got a few . . .

Aubrie - Thanks. Buy a sweatband and get to work :)

Donna - Nice to see you here. Thanks for following and commenting. The background here came straight from Blogger's new design feature. Hi to Alex :)
HGTV has some of the best shows around!

I love the moment my inspiration is taken over by my characters, but it is tough to make sure that they continue to, "play well with others."
Carol Kilgore said…
Jane, our characters can certainly take us for a spin around the block. I love it, too.
Anonymous said…
Wonderful and inspiring post, Carol. Thank you.
Lisa K. said…
Thanks for an inspiring post. I like to believe that success is 90% perspiration because that means that ultimately hard work will pay off! I don't know about anyone else, but that's one of the things that keeps me pushing forward!
Carol Kilgore said…
That's true. Nothing will happen if we quit. Thanks for commenting :)