Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Embracing Inspiration

by Sharon Lathan

Over three years ago now something happened that changed my life. I walked into a movie theater and saw the 2005 adaptation of “Pride & Prejudice” by Joe Wright. Many, many times over the past years, and especially lately as I am promoting my debut novel, I have discussed the various reasons why this movie touched me. I have eloquently expressed the beauty of the cinematography, the fabulous acting, the passion and drama that leapt off the screen, and so on in a dozen different ways and with varied language. Some readers know precisely what I am relating as they felt it too, while others shake their heads in bafflement.

I love talking about the movie and do so with reverence because it was the doorway through which I learned about Jane Austen. I know that not everyone concurs with my awe for Joe Wright’s creation. Many bow down at the altar of Andrew Davies and his brilliant decision to put Colin Firth into a wet shirt! Others rabidly defend the idea that life begins and ends with the original novel. Whatever.

All I know for absolutely certainty is that something miraculous switched on inside of me. Visions danced within my brain; conversations between characters played like a looping recorder; places that I had never been took on shape and substance; phrases, sentences, paragraphs, and whole chapters materialized on the pages of my imagination.

A writer was born, even before I thought of sitting down at the computer and typing a single thing.

We celebrate artistic endeavors in this country. To the chagrin of many and great controversy in some cases we bestow vast quantities of tax dollars to the arts. As parents we encourage our children to learn a musical instrument, take ballet, try to oil paint, etc. because we not only want them to appreciate that mysterious world but we also secretly hope the next Rembrandt or Baryshnikov has sprung from our loins. All of us are enamored with at least one artistic field: classical music, opera, sculpture, cinema, literature – or perhaps several areas interest us and move our souls. Where would we be, personally or as a society, without the arts as a part of our culture?

Not every actor will win an Oscar. Not every writer will win a Pulitzer. Most artists never receive great accolades and will probably not be remembered a hundred years after they die. Yet all of them played a part in the whole and deserve a modicum of appreciation for their contribution. And all of them began somewhere with a tiny seed deep inside that was waiting for the water of inspiration.

For me that dormant seed was germinated by a movie. Go figure! An amazing world opened up for me. A passion flamed that is fulfilling not only to me but to the multitude of readers who will enjoy my novels. I know who planted the seed and I thank Him every day. But I also know how my Divine-implanted gift was sparked into life, and I will defend that inspiration to the end.

How about you? How was your gift birthed? What inspired you?


  1. Great post, Sharon. It's fun to hear how the door swung open for you after you saw the movie. I've always been a writer--in fact, I've made a living writing my whole adult life. The fiction writing came a little later, but the desire has been there for as long as I can remember.

  2. My love of writing began the first time I ever picked up a pencil. Even when I drew pictures, I had to make up stories to go with them. I don't think I even realized what I was doing (because it was such an ornate, organic thing with me) until I was in the seventh grade and my English gave a magical name to it - writing. Not only that, she gave me a platform to explore gifts on in the writing assignments she doled out and when the year was out, she wrote me a note telling me to have a great summer and to keep on writing. I did both. I haven't looked back since. I've just been writing my way through life.


  3. Always a fascinating subject, Sharon.

    It sounds weird to say it, but I didn't know I was a writer until I wrote my first novel, SEALed With A Kiss.

    Not to say that I didn't write. I did. All the time. Published a number of times.

    But it was in writing a romance that for the first time, I wrote completely in my own voice.

    I think I understand, Sharon, how in watching the movie you found the place within yourself where the writing dwelled.

  4. Great post, Sharon!
    My source of inspiration? Well, you see, there was this knight at Medieval Times....

  5. Great post! It's always so much fun to hear about writers' inspiration.

    My 'becoming a writer' story begins way back when dinosaurs roamed the earth... ooops, no, wait...

    My 'becoming a writer' story begins in childhood. I started to read early, and wrote lots of compositions in school. Remember compositions? When you got to stretch your fictional wings? At some point I think I realized that all the books I loved... somebody wrote them. I was hooked.

    And then it took me forever to get up the nerve to try to get published. But I did, and I loooove writing!

  6. Happy St Patrick's Day, Sharon! I've always written stories or made up stories to share with my friends on sleepovers. But my dad was a great oral storyteller, and I think that's where some of my inclination came from. :)

    Super post, Sharon!

  7. Inspiration is always my favorite thing to hear about from authors. Thanks for sharing!

  8. Sharon, you're not going to believe this, but my sister was just having a discussion about writers with one of the other officers' wives out in Hanford, CA...Kyra said she has a sister who writes, and wouldn't you know, this other wife, a nurse, has a friend who saw Pride & Prejudice and was inspired to write a sequel...three of them, to be exact...

    It's a small world, isn't it? Kyra couldn't believe it when I said, "Hey! That's Sharon!"

    Anyway, what a lovely post. There are many things that inspire us, but very few that really rock us to our cores and open a door we might never have known was there. You were lucky to find one:-) I don't think I really had a "moment," so much as I was just born with an innate love of story. And eventually, whenever I was reading, a voice started to whisper, "You could do this." I'm glad I finally listened:-)

  9. Hi everyone! Sorry I am just getting time to check in. Last night was a killer night in the NICU and the bed beckoned!

    I suppose it is the 'norm' for an artist to feel the urge on some level most of their life. I have never investigated the stats, but that is my guess! Still, I have known many people who discovered a gift of some sort later in life, so I do not think I am an enigma. Plus, in retrospect I can see where my love of literature did lead to me weaving stories in my brain for most of my life. And I was REALLY good at those English compositions too Donna! I just never translated that to writing a story of my own until now. Maybe I am just dense. :)

    Kendra, you HAVE to email me the name of your sister's friend! I have a suspicion, but I know many people out at the Navy base.

    Thanks for sharing your inspiration stories, my sisters. I really do appreciate it and I am sure our silent readers do as well. :)

  10. Chiming in late to say GREAT POST, Sharon!

    I'm another one of those who started making up stories as soon as I could read. But I never thought of myself as "a writer" until I took a creative writing class in my 20s. That's when it finally sunk in that all those wonderful "authors" were human beings just like me!