Last week, my dog Hank, a 10 pound Yorkie mutt, started barking incessantly in the other room. He barked and barked in a way I had never heard him bark before. Of course as a writer, my mind started to churn out potential causes for the barking episode. Was he engaged in an aural turf war with a neighborhood dog? Did he encounter a squirrel? Did he hear someone walking by on the street? Though each of these scenarios was a figment of my imagination, all would have been completely reasonable explanations for Hank’s barking. When he wouldn’t stop after ten mutes, I decided to go and see what Hank was in fact barking about.
And there it was. Fifteen feet away from me stood a five foot tall blue heron. In my backyard. Literally the biggest bird I have ever seen in my entire life. It was standing on its thin legs, straight up in the air, with its wings at its sides, just looking at me. I stood there awestruck. And then it spread its wings, which had a wingspan of maybe ten feet, and stunned me even further.
You know what this bird taught me? That my imagination paled in comparison to the reality of my life. The catch is, to access the inspiration my life has to offer, I have to live it. I have to peel myself away from the computer and go outside. When I went outside today, I didn’t see a Blue Heron, but I did see a pair of hummingbirds, dragonflies, and butterflies. Not bad, right?
If you’re lacking creative inspiration, chances are you’re trying to generate fiction without having the proper source material. Your life will give you more to write about than you could possibly imagine. So this week, make sure you’re living it.
*A little Internet research has revealed that a Blue Heron sighting has some significance. “According to North American Native tradition, the Blue Heron brings messages of self-determination and self-reliance. They represent an ability to progress and evolve. The long thin legs of the heron reflect that an individual doesn’t need great massive pillars to remain stable, but must be able to stand on one’s own.”