Inspiration. In-spi-ra-tion. A good idea.
There are several definitions of inspiration in Mr. Webster’s dictionary. One of them is “something that makes someone want to do something or that gives someone an idea about what to do or create: a force that inspires someone,”— but the one I like best is “A good idea.” Short and to the point.
When we sit down at our computer (or with our notebooks) to write, we are eagerly seeking a good idea. We roll different scenarios around in our heads depending on the subject matter we’re about to examine. What would readers like to hear from us today?
We know the basics. Writing a column on bubble gum? Find a six year old and you have an instant expert with many ideas. Some of them are probably good. Do you want to write about the vacant house down the street that ‘s been written about a hundred times? Check out the history of the builders or the first people to live in it. Or better yet, spend a night in the house and talk about the ghosts of residents past.
Sometimes, however, inspiration just falls, uninvited, into your lap. (Yes, I know that sounds odd, but stay with me.)
On a recent Amtrak trip to Chicago, I was minding my business, trying desperately not to hit the “Klondike” key on my computer screen. . I was overdue for an article for our blog and was going through the usual ordeal…. “oh, nuts, everything has already been written about.” (Note to self, how about an article about ending sentences with prepositions?)
Suddenly, the train came to the proverbial screeching halt. “What,” I wondered, “is happening?” But not in those words.
The conductor came on the intercom telling us not to worry everything was under control. Well, not really, but the powers that be apparently think it best not to upset the paying customers any sooner than necessary. After about 45 minutes and a steady stream of emergency vehicles on the highway alongside the railroad track, we learned that the train ahead of us had hit a truck. A semi, I believe they called it.
Assured that no injuries occurred (although that, too proved to be false), we waited anxiously to see what would happen next. It turned out to be a regular circus of events.
Among the passengers on our train were 50 Girl Scouts going to Chicago for a camping weekend. They began filing back to our car as we had a relatively good view of the carnage.
“Ewwwwwww,” they would shriek in sugar induced frenzy. “Ewwwwwwww, there is bacon everywhere. Oh, gross.” And they would run back to their designated car.
Now, I’m as curious as the next person, so when I heard the word “bacon” my ears perked up. After some reluctance, when confronted our conductor admitted that the train ahead of us hit a semi truck loaded with 70,000 pounds of bacon.
Yes, you read that right. Seventy thousand pounds of uncooked bacon was now flung around the countryside for birds, animals, and assorted reptiles to devour. Bacon and the cardboard boxes it was wrapped in draped itself over trees, tracks, and trucks waiting to decompose and add another layer of perfume to the country air.
I took notes and took pictures and thanked the idea gods for putting me on a train with such a gold mine of good writing ideas for the future.