Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Heart of the Matter

"To imagine yourself inside another person...is what a story writer does in every
piece of work; it is his first step, and his last too, I suppose." --Eudora Welty

Artist: Margie Lakeberg

I love the goldfinch. He's a bright and cheerful burst of joy. I saw a whole flock of goldfinches on my walk yesterday, dipping and soaring like sparkles of sunbeams on the wind. What heart they have. My friend, and artist, Margie knows this particular bird is my favorite, and I cherish the gift of her oil painting that hangs in my office. I am continually inspired by it.

Sparkles. Heart. I look for sparkles, too, in my last read-through of my manuscript. I also find myself asking hard questions about my main character. Have I gotten to the heart of her story? Do I really know her--and what's deepest in her heart? Did I, as Eudora Welty suggests, imagine myself inside her? Welty says that that's what a story writer does, first step and last.

I think I did. I hope I did. And I hope the querying process in some way encourages me that I have been on the right track (or flight). But no matter what, I take inspiration from the goldfinch and look for the moments of joy in the writing--and in the finishing.

James Michener summed up the writing process when he said, "I love writing. I love the swirl and swing of words as they tangle with human emotions."

I wonder if he was inspired by the goldfinch, too.

In all of the great outdoors, what is your greatest inspiration?


  1. Easily the weeping willow, a gentle breeze and all. It's like its own unspoken poem. Every time:)

  2. I love that quote about the swing of words:)
    I think my pink trees out back when the wind whistles through them. I love to sit on my patio and listen.

  3. I love the waves rolling up on the ocean. Something about the water is just so mesmerizing.

  4. Water. Its lapping kiss of the shore.
    Its roaring slam against the pier.

    The blues and greens and blacks and whites.
    The thousand sounds and hues and forms of water.

    LOVE THIS PLACE! What a bonus to visiting Jennifer!
    Hope you will come to my place and make a new bloggite friend!


  5. I love the Michner quote. So perfect.

    So much in nature inspires me . . . We had a short storm yesterday, but before it hit, the wind came, and yellow leaves swirled through our tree-covered yard. Beautiful. I wanted to go stand out there and spin with my arms spread wide.

  6. The goldfinch is beautiful. I guess for me it's the ocean, (I grew up in the Keys.) and our farm here in NC, with my horses and all the animals.

    Sometimes Kenda, when I'm at the barn, listening to the horses playfully neighing while crunching their grain or hay or pasture grass, the cats are purring, the chickens are clucking and the dog is barking, I think I'm in Heaven on earth. Very good for a writer's showing ability.;)

    Awesome post. I loved it. I feel at home here.

  7. I love to swing on my kid's playground set and look at the sky through the tree branches. It's the closest I have to flying, and it inspires me.
    Great post. And I love goldfinches too!

  8. Thanks to all for your comments! This has been such fun. Rebekah's weeping willow, Terri's pink trees, Jennifer and ocean waves, Patti and ocean sounds and colors, Janet's swirling leaves, Robyn's special place of heaven, and Lydia on the swings--your inspiring inspirations inspire me. I'm lovin' the dialogue :-) It's been like poetry...

  9. I love that Michener quote - it's so true! For me, it's the rain or the sound of water, or the smell of each brand new season (yes, many people think it's weird that I can SMELL seasons :D)

  10. The endless water of the ocean, and the smell and feel of the water and sand on the shore...I think I know where I got that from!