Yesterday, Jae from Lit and Scribbles featured a quote from legendary author Ray Bradbury, words that encouraged her to explore what objects inspire her and to wonder about the sources others draw upon for creative ideas. Bradbury said:
If you stuff yourself full of poems, essays, plays, stories, novels, films, comic strips, magazines, music, you automatically explode every morning like Old Faithful. I have never had a dry spell in my life, mainly because I feed myself well, to the point of bursting. I wake early and hear my morning voices leaping around in my head like jumping beans. I get out of bed to trap them before they escape.
I consider myself “overstuffed,” too, on a variety of sources of ideas: my trio of Lilliputian comediennes, my cause-lawyering job, many books, a growing number of blogs, and so on. I love each one of these sources of inspiration, my children most especially, but today I’m going to talk about another love of mine, one that facilitates my creative expression precisely because it’s essentially “idle” time, unmarked by the frenzied overload of stuffing myself “full of poems, essays, plays, stories, novels, films, comic strips, magazines, [and] music”:
Yup, I spend much of my free time watching birds, listening to birds, and reading about birds in books and on blogs (honestly, there is no such thing as too many bird pictures!). You would think that the amount of time I spend doing these activities would detract from the amount of time I have available for everything else I do in my life, but it turns out to be one of those hobbies that facilitates creative work.
Bird-watching is a lightly entertaining pastime that offers an escape from more stressful activities in my life. Not only are birds beautiful and interesting to watch, but the time spent watching them is a moment to breathe. It’s a time when ideas that have been burbling around in my head have a moment to settle and flow out of my brain, rather than “burst” like Old Faithful. I love bird-watching because it’s not a time when I stuff myself full of idea-generating content, but a time when I can process the content I have collected previously. For me, watching our feeders is second only to the shower in terms of creative “epiphanies.” It helps me re-charge and think through ideas I have, and on occasion, the birds themselves are the direct source of inspiration and one or two of the quirky personalities outside the window — the co-parenting Red-bellied woodpeckers or the skittish titmice — end up in a story.
Bird-watching is a widespread enough hobby to have many blogs and societies devoted to it. So, it’s not a particularly embarrassing or unique source/facilitator of creative inspiration, but for those who may feel embarrassed to share a few words about the activities or objects that inspire them, I point to another quote from Ray Bradbury, courtesy of Letters of Note: “Be your own self. Love what YOU love.”
Everyone’s source of inspiration will be different, and hearing about the wide variety of objects and activities that inspire other imaginative minds is what is so interesting about Jae’s request. Check out Jae’s blog if you’d like to participate.