I don’t consider myself a gifted writer. I don’t even consider myself talented. In contrast, I am pretty sure the fact that I hear voices in my head—and I listen to them—means I’m probably a little on the nutty side. Just a few weeks ago I woke up distraught about a conversation I heard between a few of my friends, and I wondered how they were going to overcome the obstacles that threatened not only their friendships, but their lives. Should I step in, get involved, or sit back and let fate take its course? It wasn’t until I crawled out of bed that I realized: The conversation was actually a scene I had written and these were not my friends, but rather fictional characters in the Magestic Dreams Trilogy. For a moment, I was relieved. Then it occurred to me the voices had been quiet and distant, like background noise, and I couldn’t make sense of what they were saying. I was lost. I call this a “transition”, a sort of break between scenes. Somehow, I had to get from point-A to point-B without taking the most direct—and boring–route; I needed inspiration.
Inspiration is a fickle thing that comes and goes without warning. One day you are writing 3,000 words, and the next day you’re staring at that stupid blinking cursor line on your open word document like it is the enemy, laughing and daring you to strike a key.
This morning, as I stared at that white screen and that stupid blinking cursor line, I thought about my dad and how he found inspiration in the littlest and sometimes most insignificant things. It made me think of a poem he had written about the old, dying barn that stands like a testament of time in the backyard of his New England cottage. The cottage, built in the 1800’s, was a family retreat when he was young, and a retirement home for my grandparents. This is where he spent his last days, and this is his writing:
Through Barn Doors
Proud men with ax, adz and awl,
Hewed my timbers and stood them tall.
Men with backs bowed and bent,
Not a day’s useless energy spent.
I’ve housed their animals within my frame,
Some of them I knew by name.
The smell of them I can still recall
As they stood—backs steaming within their stall.
I stand not ten feet from the road…
Watched teams of oxen pass with heavy load.
When animals no longer came through my door,
No more the beat of hooves upon my floor.
A brood of children came in to play
And slept in my loft on beds of hay.
The children too, have come and gone.
I still stand next to the road…
No more oxen with heavy load.
Automobiles pass by, going fast,
With nary a thought of my years gone past.
And now my frame of sturdy beams
Serves as a warehouse for broken dreams.
~Stephen S. Haselton~
September 1944 – July 2010