Chicago and Green Juice

Posted: July 21, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , , , ,
Part of the skyline of Chicago on the eve of a...

Part of the skyline of Chicago on the eve of a Chicago White Sox baseball game. Taken from the Adler Planetarium. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are times when inspiration comes very much as its name indicates. Mere breathing initiates creativity. It is like walking through a garden: on every side sights, sounds, scents, the touch of the elements on the skin, and with every inhalation the gift of connection, of enlightenment.

This is what I expected on my recent first trip to Chicago. What I got instead was more like the process of making Green Juice. When you first prepare that big bowlful of veggies, you expect a lot of juice. Cucumbers do produce a bountiful light, watery yield. Kale, on the other hand, reduces to a few tablespoons of dense, dark liquid. We had a great time in Chicago. We saw shows, cruised, visited museums, checked out Chinatown, caught a White Sox game, and ate amazing food. That part of the trip was like cucumbers, easy and refreshing. But the inspiration I expected? More like kale. It came in moments, intensely, unpleasantly. It was not the falling of soft, summer rain or the perfume of fat, summer roses. It was tough and prickly, and had to be wrenched from experience before it could be used.

That’s the way of writing and of life. Sometimes it comes easily. We just have to breathe in the essence around us and embrace the free occurrences in our daily lives. We put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and the story tells itself. At other times, nothing seems right. We wrestle ourselves out of bed in the morning and force ourselves to keep taking steps until we collapse into sleep at night. We stare at blank screens or pages of print that need reworking or bits of dialogue and description that go nowhere and wonder if we will be able to squeeze just a little spark out of the morass. It is in those distressing times that real brilliance is born. The wrestling makes us stronger. The pinpoint of light is all the brighter for the darkness that surrounds it.

Ultimately, Chicago yielded a nourishing mixture of effervescence and intensity. Perhaps I will share my experiences precisely as they happened. Perhaps they will appear piecemeal, in characterization or action within various stories or poems or essays. Certainly they will come out between the lines, in tone and motivation and perspective because I, as a person and as a writer, was changed by them.

How do you experience inspiration most often—as a gift or as a prize you fight for? Which type affects you most deeply and enduringly?

  1. I hope you enjoyed your trip to Chicago. I’m sorry it was kale instead of cucumbers but next time you come maybe you can consult us at 4-Star. We’re the new kids on the block for Chicago exploration.

  2. imaladybug says:

    Ahhhh. Definitly a new take on Chicago. This will let me see the city with different eyes the next time I visit.

    • keliwright says:

      I think Chicago is the kind of place that will be new and challenging regardless of how often I visit. And that’s a good thing! Definitely not beaches and margaritas.

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