Over the years I have found inspiration in the most bizarre places. Ten years ago, I contrived most stimulus from lovers. Sex being all I thought about, it was a highly motivating activity that scintillated my mind into creative flurries. Drugs and alcohol have proven to be pretty helpful in creating intoxicated adventures that people laugh off when written down as blurbs of fictitious drivel. Lucky really, or I’d probably be brought up on some sort of ridiculous charges if my tanked-up tales of misspent first job wages dating back to the dark ages, before Apple Pay, when losing your wallet meant scrounging off your mates for the rest of the night. I had a friend who did this weekly.
I once wrote a three-thousand-word essay on the art of fellatio entitled “Oral Sex: A Blow by Blow Guide for Amateurs” in which I listed a comprehensive catalogue of do’s and don’ts for the act. I smugly handed it over for my English coursework to a rather unimpressed look from my teacher, Mrs Brown. It was, of course, as misinformed and undereducated as my fifteen-year-old mind was, which Mrs Brown was kind enough to inform me. She did however remark on my writing being of a very high quality and that I showed some promise so should continue to practice. She advised me that all writing requires research to be grounded in fact or realism, and that I should research oral sex further. I honestly thought she was instructing me to receive more blow-jobs! I was mortified to be dragged into the Head Master’s office having been caught with an ex behind the leisure centre wheelie bins to be told Mrs Brown meant for me to read more. I suggested that experience must be had, not learnt.
You can’t know how parachuting out of an airplane will make you feel from reading it in a book, you have to physically fling yourself out and pray to whatever deity you worship that you don’t become a splodge of ketchup on the tarmac miles beneath you. An attitude I maintain to this day.
Of course, stories, art, music and performances do inspire. I appreciate that art creates art through influence. Narratives are created through osmosis. By ingesting a narrative on a topic that strikes you, it becomes a muse unto itself and off you go to write your own incarnation of that story prototype. I am a proud narrative junkie who reads, watches and sees everything I possibly can. But, I don’t believe my inspiration comes solely or even mostly from the masterful work of others. Rather, I find life inspires me most, a fluid line of inspiration and all you have to do in order to find it? Live.
My wife has long been a delightful muse and stern motivator. Over the years she has become more and more stringent in her approach to me and has become more like an agent or my manager. She disciplines and organises me so that I can meet deadlines and still have time for my many passion projects. She is an angel, the perfect partner in every way. She’s also insanely hot and could write her own Blow by Blow guide, which helps somewhat, but her never-ending support and stimulus is a precious quality I am constantly grateful for. My daughter, who is ten months and can only churn out half a dozen, barely comprehensible words, is my most vigorous inspiration.
I have found that the screaming, furious new-born that deprived me of sleep for so long when she first arrived has become something of a saviour. Working on a freelance basis, especially in a creative industry where you are not making a huge amount of money, the biggest obstacle is to stay motivated. Finish projects. Meet deadlines. Start the next. Since Nancy was born, I have found her to be that motivation, the drive for me to do it all. Her smiling little face as she squeals “Dada” over and over like a CD that stuck in the player, is the epitome of purpose. My purpose. Her very existence makes me work harder and do more than I have ever done. Especially when I don’t want to. Being a parent has given me a solid kick up the arse that I didn’t even know I needed. She is also however, my biggest distraction. I mean seriously, look at how cute this kid is. How many infants do you know that can sit and watch the Wonder Woman animated film in its entirety? Recognise each of the trinity’s (Wonder Woman, Superman, Batman) symbols and know what they mean? Or jump up and down like a mad monkey when she hears She-Ra bellow “For the honour of Greyskull”? Few, if any, I would wager. This tiny little person looks at all the things I love in this world and adores them with her own, beautiful sense of wonderment that I lost decades ago.
Where I have always looked for inspiration and motivation and attempted to understand the difference between the two, I have now found both and have a clearer comprehension. Inspiration is fluid, fleeting and you only notice it when you need to. When you have a story to tell, are ready to tell it and merely need something to click in your mind to put pen to paper. Motivation needs to be solid, consistent; for me at least. Where my life and experiences (along with a shit tonne of stories to read and watch) afford me the inspiration I require, my family is my motivation. They give me the conviction and gumption to stay on track, remain consistent and improve daily. Whoever knew that becoming a parent would make this thirty-something man-child slightly more mature? Not me, that’s for damn sure.