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my inspiration

A few years ago our local paper sent a form around asking members of the arts community about their inspiration. Please write a brief essay explaining who or what has motivated you to become the artist you are was, I believe, the question at the top of the form. We were supposed to include an appropriate photograph if we had one. I thought deep and hard (well, yawned and scratched my head) and laboured (well, messed around) for several (well, one) hour, and came up with a piece.

And I never heard back from them. When the article came out the following week I understood. Seems like most of my local arts community gets up every morning and goes to work thinking of their mom. That's what gets them going. She is in my thoughts always, wrote one sculptor. There was a nice picture, too. Dad was also prominently featured as an inspiration, as were kids, dogs, Mother Theresa, war veterans, the country, and Madonna (a charming piece from a teenaged actor, who attached a signed photo).

My inspiration is different. Not that I don't care about my parents -- in fact, I owe Mom a phone call right now, though I think I'll wait until later in the morning to ring her. Not that I don't think about my kids all the time, or my country (maybe not quite so often) or Mother Theresa and Madonna (all right, now I'm lying. It's been well over a month since I've thought seriously about Madonna). What I'm getting at is that my piece focussed on another kind of inspiration. You see, I write not from love but from fear. Every morning I get up thinking: I have bills to pay. With four teens running around, the frozen foods aisle of the grocery store is enough to get me going. My piece was all about the motivation provided to me, as an artist, by my monthly statement from the good patrons at VISA. And, yes, I included a photo.

It's crunch time for me right now. Another book deadline looms, and if I don't meet it I don't get paid. Whether I meet it or not, there'll be a VISA bill at the end of the month. That's the only good thing about my source of inspiration -- it will never (sigh) run dry.


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