In Search of Lightning

July 19, 2021

There’s a pretty common idea floating around that the writing process looks like this:

  1. Inspiration strikes you, like a bolt of lightning from the sky. You are one with the muse, and you are ready to write!
  2. The words pour out of you onto the page. It flows, all golden and lovely like lavender honey, and before you know it: ta da! A new thing is written!

And you know what?

Sometimes, it does work like that.

Lightning does strike. It has to land somewhere, right?

And sometimes, it does happen under the circumstances you’d totally expect.

Sara wrote a draft of one her favorite (and, she thinks, best) poems in St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 in New Orleans by literally propping up her journal on a water spigot and scribbling away with her hotel pen. The ambiance was perfect – you can’t ask for better inspiration from a location.

Brittany wrote a draft for one of her Sleeping Beauty poems on a Post-it underneath her notebook where she was actually supposed to be taking notes during a lecture…on Sleeping Beauty. The lecturer mentioned something about gratitude for being awakened from enchanted slumber…and Brittany (who really likes sleep) was off like a shot.

But that’s not always how it goes.

Sometimes, lightning finds you in very unexpected places.

Brittany once wrote the notes for a poem while on a deeply unpleasant call with a lawyer.

Sara typed the notes for a short story into her phone between bouts of rage-reading articles about the Kavanaugh hearing. 

A turn of phrase in a conversation, blue hydrangeas in a certain light, bad news, good news, a scoop of blackberry cobbler…

Any one of them might call down lightning, when you least expect it. 

Of course, you can’t depend on lightning. Those jolts of inspiration are intoxicating, but being a writer means learning to generate your own current, even when the sky is perfectly clear and un-atmospheric. 

We can help with that!

We won’t guarantee that you’ll get struck by lightning inspiration during Carmina because we’re not lying liars. Everyone’s brain is different! What causes sparks for one person could be a foggy drizzle for another.

But we do promise that we’ll set up the best conditions. We’ll bring a lightning rod, check the weather for turbulence and possibility. We’ll give you maps and prompts and all the best ways we know to dive into story and make it your own.

And we promise that we can show you how to make your own energy, generate your own current. Which is even more powerful because that’s something under your control, something you can count on. 

Registration for our 2021 writing workshop, Carmina, is open until this Friday 7/23 at midnight EDT – if you’re a creative person in search of lightning, you don’t want to miss it!

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