What We Cannot Do

One of my favorite authors growing up was Gregory Maguire. While he publishes books for both children and adults, I have only ever had exposure to his adult fiction, which is racy (to say the least) and brilliant (at minimum). Incidentally, the only reason I picked up his work in the first place is because I was a silly, theatre-obsessed pre-teen who loved (surprise, surprise) the new musical, Wicked, which is based on Maguire’s n ovel of the same name. This story sort of serves as the prequel to The Wizard of Oz, but it is much more than a mere fantasy. Maguire discusses animal rights, politics, and tough adult subjects – the juxtaposition of fantasy and reality is nothing short of genius.

But with books like this, you have to wonder how the author draws inspiration for the “tough stuff” from the original fairytale. There is hardly an undertone of animal cruelty in the original tale of Glinda the Good and the Wicked Witch of the West, but I suppose we do wonder how the green monster manages to enslave her poor little monkey servant.

Maguire asserts what many writers often forget: “One can’t rely on inspiration.”

It’s a simplistic thought, and maybe a bit over-simplified at that, but he’s right. If we always wait for inspiration to come, we will sometimes wait for a very long time. As Maguire points out, trying to write sometimes feels like picking up a weak radio signal. You know there’s something out there – an idea, a concept, maybe even a character arc – but it’s not completely accessible yet. Sometimes, the signal is very clear, and you have a sense of direction. Other times, fiction is a lost cause.

Whatever the case may be, we must learn how to appreciate the times when inspiration is the strongest, but also how to power through the moments in our journey as writers when inspiration does not come. If we want to be prolific, successful, and seasoned, this is an absolute necessity.

For reference.

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