Monday, May 18, 2015

Inspirations and Geniuses

Thomas Edison, 1921.
Title adapted from Laurie J. Edwards’ discussion on inspiration. Thank you!

Fred White blogged in 2010 that “Being inspired smacks of amateurish, daydreamy passivity, the notion that some supernatural presence must appear before us before the words can flow. And we’re reminded to death of Thomas Edison’s overquoted words about invention demanding 99 percent perspiration and 1 percent inspiration, perhaps not realizing that without that primal 1 percent jolt from the gods, Edison might not have been driven to sweat out the hard work or to cope with a zillion things going wrong.”

Inspiration is important for any creative activity. In fact, some argue that art made the world (See Nigel Spivey’s How Art Made the World, 2005). When early humans produced art over 77,000 years ago, they crafted tools and embellished it with color, but the defining element that made it stand above their Homo habilis ancestors using tools is found the singular capacity of using the imagination. From these humble beginnings, civilizations were born.

And inspiration fires the imagination. I’ve asked some of my favorite people about their favorite inspirations, and include them below. All photographs are from the Library of Congress, used with permission.

 From Laurie J. Edwards, YA author extraordinaire:

Henry Ford, 1924. His first car and his ten millionth car.

 “Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eye off the goal.” ~ Henry Ford

Bamboo Gardens, China, 1900.
From Rebecca Colby, author of It’s Raining Bats and Frogs and other picturebooks:

"The person who says it cannot be done should not interrupt the person doing it." ~ Chinese Proverb


Martha Graham, Age 67, 1961.
  From Marcia Strykowski, author of Call Me Amy:

"There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of
you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost."  ~ Martha Graham


Eleanor Roosevelt, 1946.

 From Yvonne Ventresca, author of Pandemic:

“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. . . .You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”  ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

And because it's Mark Twain:

Mark Twain, 1903.
Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.” ~ Mark Twain

From Christina Banach, author of Minty and other YA fiction: 
“I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It's when you know you're licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what.”  ~ Harper Lee, To Kill A Mockingbird.

Historic mural depicting the Harper Lee novel, "To Kill a Mockingbird" located in Monroeville, Alabama. 1961.
 “Inspiration matters because it prods us to traverse the full spectrum of human experience. An important part of what it means to be a writer is to become so turned on to the business of being alive, to be so completely inspired by life, that you will harvest ideas for writing everywhere—from books, from people, from music and other art forms, from the natural world, and most of all from your own inner resources.” ~ Fred White, 2010

What inspires you?

Bobbi Miller


Yvonne Ventresca said...

Your blog post inspires me, Bobbi! Great collection of quotes. Thanks for including mine.


Anonymous said...

What a beautiful post! I love how the old photographs go so well with the well-chosen inspiring quotations.

Bobbi Miller said...

Thank YOU, Yvonne and Marcia, for giving me great material to work with. I also love the photographs. The Library of Congress is a national treasure.

Anonymous said...

Just what I needed today!

Esther Hershenhorn said...

Thank you, Bobbi, for sharing these right-on inspirational quotes.
I will be sharing this post - and thus these quotes - to inspire my students and writers.....and printing it out so I can be inspired on a daily basis.
Your Fan Esther

Carmela Martino said...

Thanks for this, Bobbi. I especially love the Chinese proverb. :-) And the Martha Graham quote is one of my all-time favorites.

JoAnn Early Macken said...

Thank you, Bobbi, for the wise, helpful words!

Bobbi Miller said...

Thank you for your kind words, Esther! The feelings are mutual! Your fan, Bobbi

Bobbi Miller said...

Thank you, Marti! I just love the photograph of Martha Graham, at age 67 no less! Amazingly inspirational!

Bobbi Miller said...

Thank YOU, JoAnn, for your wise poetry and your constant support!

Bobbi Miller said...

Thank you, Donna, for stopping by, for your constant support--and for your wonderful poetry!

Clare Helen Welsh said...

Children! My own, other people's ...and the child I still secretly am!

Bobbi Miller said...

Clare: EXACTLY! Well said!

jan godown annino said...

For inspiration I seek out voices - my family, friends, at school where I'm a volunteer reader &
among strangers out in this incredible World.
Here's a quote that speaks to that -

"If you don't hear a poem spoken,
it's like never hearing a song sung."

Ashley Bryan

As much as I need to & love to look at Nature, I also need to hear her leaf rustle, her birdsong, her water whispers. AND the voices of people.

Bobbi Miller said...

Hi Jan: Ashley is probably the most inspirational person walking on this planet. I so adore him! What an excellent, excellent choice for this conversation. Thank you!