Writers often talk about finding their creative "inspiration," sometimes in the most unlikely of places. This past week I was fortunate to find some inspiration of my own on two different occasions.
I have been trying to jumpstart a new book project: A memoir/tribute to my father and the time he spent as an amateur and semi-professional basketball player during the 1940s-1950s.
While I have a great deal of research material and many ideas for this book, I have yet to put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard.
Last week, I spoke at a conference in Pittsburgh and happened to mention that my father was a standout on the Duquesne High School Basketball team in 1942-43, before building a reputation as an outstanding player in various local intermural leagues and then some semi-pro teams. After my talk, one woman in attendance approached me and mentioned that she grew up in nearby McKeesport and fondly remembered the days of Duquesne High School basketball--how fans packed the bleachers of the gymnasium and when they stopped their feet and cheered, the atmosphere was simply "electrifying." This brief exchange sparked a reawakened interest in me for beginning my book. I began to think of how to set some initial scenes to portray some of the basketball games where my dad excelled on the court, and it had me thinking more about how to structure the book and some of the key events I want to include.
The second wave of "inspiration" came just a couple of days ago when I was reading the blog of my good friend and fellow writer, Dan Burns. In his September 4th post, Dan wrote about how "we never know what's around the next bend." His post stressed that we need to be prepared for what awaits us.
I truly believe that both of these forms of inspiration came to me at the time they were supposed to. I have been putting off writing this book about my father because I think I was avoiding it. It will soon be a year that my father passed away at age 80 (on November 27, 2005). Losing my father was very difficult. Although I knew that at his age and with his litany of health problems over the years that the time would come sooner rather than later (every day I had with him was a blessing), I still spent several months dealing with the loss and grief that is normal when you lose a loved one (and a parent). A few months ago, writing about my father and his life experiences would have been nearly impossible. But, now, I am ready. I am prepared to go on this journey. It just took someone else's reminiscences and positive energy, and a reminder from a good friend to get me back on track, ready to round that next bend...