Inspiration is one of those elusive things that can hit at any time. Sometimes I am flooded with ideas and other times, nothing. Finding inspiration isn’t difficult if you know where to look.
It can be as simple as a walk through the park, watching the sun rise or set, or cooking your favorite meal. Sometimes, great ideas come from our dreams, whether sleeping or awake and other times, from seeing great art or artists.
I like the Manhattan Library in New York City. It’s a spectacular building, full of beauty and history. Libraries have a deep sense of reverence for me. The sheer volume of knowledge available, alone, is staggering.
I have been going there for many years. Back when I was an undergraduate student, I would travel all the way into the city to work and write there. I feel like I am visiting an old friend when I go there.
There is great comfort in that. There is safety, peace, accomplishment, and beauty. The building itself is a spectacle, with its high ceilings and all the nooks and areas to hide away to write.
It’s the perfect space to create and it lends itself nicely to stories, with the scene already set. It can be made to be beautiful, strong, spooky, modern or old, or anything I want it to be.
I see castles and prisons, courtrooms, and mansions. If I have an idea, I can simply sit there and soak in all that atmosphere and beauty and picture my characters moving about.
The people there are also hugely inspirational. There is always something interesting. The old men that come to read the newspapers, the homeless just trying to keep warm. The grandmother trying to learn how to use the internet. The teens making out.
Just watching the people there can be very enlightening. Everyone is going about their business, just getting on with their lives. Everyone there for their own purpose. I love to watch people.
It’s fun to imagine what their life is like. I love putting them into scenarios in my mind, including them in plots I am working on and letting them interact with people there, in real life, and those characters in my mind.
The many faces I see also help me define the features of my characters. So often, we see people with scars, both physically and emotionally. Some people look sad, others content. I love to imagine what made them that way.
A library sees the most diverse group of people. People are there for so many different reasons, and while I don’t really know anything about them, it inspires me greatly when I think about them.
What are their lives like? Are they happy? Lonely? Why? What happened in their lives that makes them the way they are? I fill in the blanks to my own specifications and that helps me see things from other angles.
It’s also very special to me because I wrote most, if not all, of my book, “The Voiceless Voice” there. I have very fond memories of traveling there regularly, setting up my station, and working away while I was still working on my undergrad degree.
I also worked on many of my short stories while in that library. I think just being in a library adds a sense of power, to be surrounded by so much knowledge and all those people seeking knowledge.
For me, I find inspiration in the library from the quietness of it all. Everyone trying their best to stay quiet and still. I like the collective effort and the feeling that we are all trying together to give each other the space we need.
There is also comfort in the familiarity of the library. I feel connected to it, somehow. Because we have a history, it’s like an old friend. I feel comfortable and safe there. It’s like going home, in a way.
One of the best aspects of the library is the smell of old books. Well, books, period. It smells clean and moldy and of history and of cleanser and of hope and desperation. It stirs up so many feelings for me.
It’s very familiar and somehow strange, all at the same time. I feel honored to be allowed into its sacred walls of knowledge and history. Like it is a privilege, somehow.
And it is, in many ways. Libraries give us so much and the very fact we are meant to behave in a certain way makes it feel like we are being allowed to do something special.
While there are certainly other things that inspire me, the Manhatten library is definitely one of the best. It’s personal and public, I am alone amongst many and inspired by all of its beauty and power.