Many writing classes and groups offer prompts–suggestions on topics that may inspire. Sometimes a first line is provided. If I participate in a group where this aid to inspiration is suggested, I politely participate and never go back. It’s not clear to me where inspiration comes from, but it’s not manufactured by someone else.
I wonder sometimes, do I find my projects or do they find me?
At the moment, I’m absorbed in learning about Danish culture and the Vikings. Perhaps this started when I discovered some of my ancestors hailed from county Argyll, in Scotland. Perhaps it began when I came across the work of L. A. Ring, a Danish painter. It’s hard to tell how these separate ideas bounced off each other. Certainly, they are related, as is an interest in the Duchy of Normandy. I’ve an ancestral connection to Normandy, also.
If this process of project development sounds messy, it is. There will never be enough time to explore all the ideas that have grown out of my Danish soup. Am I interested in writing about Ring, an artist who is appreciated in Scandinavia and not many other places in the world? Is there an association between Ring’s stark realism and the philosophy of Kierkegaard? Am I interested in writing a story about Vikings and slavery?
In recent weeks I’ve begun to explore each of these ideas. As I explore, more ideas spring forth. Obviously, I can’t create a project for each of these. However, the abundance of ideas demonstrates the lack of utility in a “prompt”. I could no more be inspired by a prompt from someone else’s creative well, than I would expect them to be inspired by my own serendipitous process. That’s the magic, and mystery, of creativity.
So, am in search of a project or is a project in search of me? Perhaps a little of both. I’ll know in a little while where this adventure leads. Stay tuned.