The Other Side of Inspiration


Writing is painting a picture with words. Art can be pleasing to the eye, but behind every painting, there is a story, a manuscript. I wish these manuscripts were tangible so I could know the story of every painting I look at. There could be hidden or disguised sorrow in a seemingly happy portrait. A dark and stormy landscape could contain unfathomable joy. We just don’t know the story.

Take poetry, for example. Short and simple. Or so it seems. I’ve written many poems based off of pictures, but that is my interpretation of the story I imagine being told. The person who took the photo could have an entirely different stream of thoughts. They could be thinking of a poem, a feeling, their religion…. the possibilities are endless.

Vice versa, I find it extremely difficult to translate words into a picture. Sure, you can imagine a scene in your head as you’re reading a poem or a story, but unless you’re an artist, which I am not, it’s almost impossible to find a picture that matches your thoughts. As a writer myself, I have a semi-distinct image in my head when I write, almost like a movie playing out in my mind. Finding something, anything, on the web (usually Pinterest) that reminds me immediately of what I’ve written is extremely rare, if it even happens at all. More often, the pictures I do find inspire me to write a scene or add another plot line.

So it comes down to the question: what is more inspiring, a picture or words? My own opinion is that it varies from person to person, as each human being is wonderful in his own way. Writers may find the words they’ve been missing amongst flowing watercolors. Artists may see the final puzzle piece to the masterpiece that has haunted them for weeks in the pages of a text.

This is all very well for those people, but how do you match your own thoughts to an already-existent work of art or words? Searching for inspiration is one thing, but finding a match for something you’ve already created is extremely difficult. “Inspirational” pictures with a quotation placed overtop are very common in this day and age, but they’re also somewhat of a joke. At least, they are to my generation. Does the quotation really reflect the picture? If the quotation was removed, would the picture make you think of anything at all similar to the subject of the quotation?

Writers and artists come in all shapes and forms: journalists, novelists, photographers, film-makers, painters, poets. They inspire one another to no end, whether one inspires the other, or the two puzzle pieces coincide in surprised delight.

How do you paint your picture?


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