Author Bill Blais opens up how learning experiences in life and the adversity we face can be turned into inspiration.
First, thanks to Lindsay for having me by, today. With Mother's Day just past, I was reminded of something that is not only a part of my writing, but of my life.
In my writing, I often find that I have written myself into a brick wall, which I am repeatedly trying to break through with my forehead. This usually occurs when I am trying to force the story and characters to go in a certain direction. I am too focused on what I think is right, and not open to other possibilities.
In my early days of writing, it could take 20 or 30 pages before I realized that the problem wasn't them, but me. Once I finally accept this, though, I'm able to look around with fresh eyes, and what the characters end up showing me is invariably -- invariably -- better than what I had planned.
I've gotten a bit better since then (a bit), and I have found that I am most quick to see when I am going wrong when I am in a good place already.
I am a firm believer in the idea that we make our own luck, which, for me, means always trying to do what I should be doing when I should be doing it. For example, when I am exercising regularly, writing at least 5 minutes a day, and spending time with my family instead of the computer, I am healthier, more productive with even those few minutes, and happier than I feel I deserve.
If I let things get in the way, though, such as putting off exercising during my lunch break at the day job to keep working on a project, I am invariably less productive in the short term, and less pleasant to be around in the long. A single day here or there is obviously acceptable -- and expected, actually, because life is a gloriously messy and un-scheduled thing -- but I am a weak creature of lazy habits. When I miss one day, I find it ten times easier to miss the next day, then I'm a 100 times more likely to let a week go by for the sake of some perceived greater good.
So what does this have to do with inspiration from adversity?
Well, if I'm not already in a good place (doing the things I know I should be doing and being happy in the time that I have), then I am far more likely to be knocked sideways by life's curveballs. These curveballs come in many forms (a car accident, a bad surprise at the doctor's office, an accidental trip down the stairs) and they come when they will rather than when we are prepared for them. While being in that good place certainly doesn't allow me to avoid the curveballs, I am able to catch them when they come instead of letting them hit me on the jaw, and this is where the inspiration can come.
For example, holidays are not the most pleasant of times for all people. Perhaps a first Mother's Day without a mother, or the threat of a family tragedy which drapes over everyone like a suffocating blanket, or, perhaps worst of all, a family holiday without family to share it. In such instances, such as we all must face at some time, it is easy for me to be overwhelmed by the grief or fear or loneliness, and to forget that there is light and beauty and kindness.
But, if I have done the work of making my own luck, I am more readily able to remember that the loss or difficulty of a loved one can serve a more positive purpose. There is no good without bad, no right without wrong, and adversity, however terrible, can also inspire, whether it is to write hand-written cards, make postponed phone calls or visits, or simply remember the pleasant times shared.
These things certainly aren't cures and life's curveballs can still catch me completely off-guard, but they help me know that I'm going to be fine.
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