Mar 26, 2011 | Personal

I seem to be posting a lot lately, go figure.

Writers get ideas out of everywhere and nowhere. The sound of a car in the street in the evening. A news story. The smell of bread. In the course of things, we turn ideas into stories that may or may not be available to read, and some of them get published. Fantasy writers, who are usually making everything up out of nothing, get ideas and turn them into stories influenced by every other fantastic tale they’ve ever read, for example.

That’s the nuts and bolts kind of inspiration; creative, evocative, suggestive. That’s not what I’m concerned with right now.

Words have power. The right words are like a dagger to the gut, or the touch of a deity. They can turn heroes into cowards, start wars, break down walls, lift up nations. The right words, in the right hands, are pure inspiration; something so powerful that they reach into the soul and make us believe that we can be better than we are.

Martin Luther King had a dream. John F Kennedy chose to go to the moon. Anne Frank believed that people are really good at heart. Joni Mitchell saw love from both sides. Still only words, but they catch in the throat and the heart in a way that nothing else can, because there is nothing on earth so pure and vital as a passionate truth.

I am only a fantasy writer. My chosen genre tends not to deal in that kind of inspiration – not that it doesn’t exist, of course; Tolkien himself wrote many things that ring of it. It’s just not my forte. It’s important because it inspires me to learn, someday, to write a shadow of it into my work.

I got to thinking of all this because of a Youtube video – Taylor Mali, a poet, reciting one of his works. Sounds dry and boring, I know, but Taylor is anything but.