Gaining Insight and Inspiration from Authors

Inspiration Perspiration

I find there is a correlation between inspiration and perspiration: it’s why I tend to start an exercise program after watching the Olympics, even though I have no intention of donning a leotard and careening down an icy mountain on a cafeteria tray, like athletes who compete in the skeleton do.

For my writing, inspiration comes from going to author events. I’m an author junkie. Last week, after winning the Giller Prize, Lynn Coady said, “Canada treats its writers like rock stars.” I like to think that’s true, and that I’m one of the fans in the audience.

Author Lawrence Hill and moi

Author Lawrence Hill and moi

This certainly was true last Sunday. I hired a babysitter and went early to get a front row seat at the Calgary Public Library to listen to Lawrence Hill, author of the award-winning The Book of Negroes (published under the title Someone Knows my Name in the US).

I thought I’d share some of the notes I took, snippets of what Lawrence Hill said, ideas that I found inspiring:

On Life and Living:

  • “There is no point in ranking human suffering.”
  • “Language that purports to define you by race will always fail.”
  • “Every generation will have to grapple with the wrongs of humanity.”
  • “I don’t want to bury the past unexamined.”

On Writing:

  • Always situate a powerful narrative in the shoes of the person who has the most to lose.
  • Research and write. Research can be the writer’s greatest procrastination tool.
  • The challenge of writing historical fiction is to visualize the research, to imagine it
  • Read like crazy, especially in the genre you’re writing; read from historical and current works as well as from big and small presses.
  • G.Y.A.I.C.: Get Your A$$ in Chair.

That last bit is the perspiration part. My butt has been in my chair since November 1. It’s getting wider.

Your turn: what has inspired your writing lately?

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About Leanne Shirtliffe (Ironic Mom)

Leanne Shirtliffe (a.k.a. Ironic Mom) is a humor writer who lives by the motto, "If you can't laugh at yourself, laugh at your kids." She is the author of DON'T LICK THE MINIVAN: Things I Never Thought I'd Say To My Kids (2013) and the picture book THE CHANGE YOUR NAME STORE (2014).
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One Response to Gaining Insight and Inspiration from Authors

  1. Awesome post Leanne. We learn so much from each other. Keep up the good work. I went to the Sechelt Festival of the Written Arts this summer… uber inspiring!

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