January 30, 2012

A Few Notes on Inspiration

Whether you prefer to tap into a sense of inspiration, motivation, or just plain old perspiration (aka Butt In Chair), sometimes it's hard to get started on whatever it is you're supposed to be writing. Excuses flow much more easily than the words of the story you're trying to write, and procrastination becomes a shining beacon, a siren song.

Distraction can take a lot of different forms, but so can inspiration (as these two blog posts by Kate Messner--Part 1 and Part 2--attest). I found a combination of both in this week's announcement of the various YALSA Book Awards.

There were some surprises--such as the fact that I hadn't heard of this year's Printz winner at all (probably because I spent several months of last year in a study cave). Also surprising, but gratifying, was finding out that Susan Cooper won an Edwards Award for her contribution to teen literature in the form of The Dark Is Rising sequence.

I find it hard to put into words the influence these books had on me when I was growing up. I was about 11 or 12 when I first read them, and they both fascinated and scared the pants off me. I was kind of shocked, when I read the press release, to see that they were written in the 1960s and 1970s, because they felt modern when I read them circa 1988-ish. I suppose a better description would be that they had a timeless quality.

I was already interested in things English and Celtic and Arthurian when I read them, but The Dark Is Rising books hooked me, and kind of made me obsessed. (They also gave me more than a few scary nightmares.) Among other things, they were a very large stepping stone on my path to eventually learning Welsh language (which I learned here and here). Also, when I think about iconic children's fantasy, when I think about books that hooked both my heart and my head, that made me believe in magic--the magic of words--I think about these. And I hope someday I'm able to write something that has just a tiny fraction of that magic.

Cheers, Susan Cooper!

1 comment:

Maegan Langer said...

I read a couple of those books when I was a kid, long before I caught the Welsh bug. Now they're on my list to go back and read again.

Great thoughts on inspiration! I'm struggling with that a little more than usual at the moment. But like you, I hope to create for someone else the same experience I have when I read the books that hook my head and heart (Harry Potter, Robin McKinley, and Maggie Stiefvater come to mind).

Thanks for the links!