We never can be sure when it’s going to hit, or what causes it. Maybe a song you heard on the radio had a lyric that sparked something. Maybe an international news story gets you wondering what it’s like to live over there, under those conditions. Maybe a documentary on the History Channel sparks something. Who knows?
But when the inspiration hits you hard, it’s magical. You sit down at your computer, or your notebook and you just start letting it flow out of you. It comes so easily. You probably don’t even notice that your pen isn’t leaving the page, or your typing is ceaseless. Your hands and wrists don’t hurt, even though hours are passing by. You have no idea, because you’re in the zone. If you were hungry once, it’s passed. You might be thirsty, but you’re too busy to notice.
In that moment, when the story is coming to us so seamlessly – like you already have it memorized and you’re just transcribing it now – this is what we all wish and hope for. I remember reading something about a famous author writing his most famous work – it might have been Fitzgerald and The Great Gatsby, or Faulkner and The Sound and the Fury; I can’t remember – and he managed to do it in only two weeks. My MS took six years, and I remember thinking, “What a jerk! For a masterpiece like that (whichever one it was) to come so easily. I hate him.”
But just a few weeks ago, for the first time in years, I was hit by one of these waves. Ten handwritten pages kept me up until 4:30 in the morning, and I had to force myself to go to sleep. I was so jacked up on my own inspiration; my own creativity, it was like drinking an espresso. My mind wasn’t turning off. And suddenly, I understood how Faulkner or Fitzgerald, or anyone else for that matter, could finish upwards of 97,000 words or more in just two weeks. And there’s a part of me thinking, maybe I could do that. Hopefully, the wave will keep up.