Finding Esther Williams, or Other Writing Muses

The usual things inspire me to write: reading, traveling, people watching, exercising, showering, interesting conversations, and societal issues. But this past month I’ve been running into more oblique inspirations (read: weird inspirations).

According to Steve Jobs, weird associations are par for the course for creativity:

“Creativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something. It seemed obvious to them after a while. That’s because they were able to connect experiences they’ve had and synthesize new things. And the reason they were able to do that was that they’ve had more experiences or they have thought more about their experiences than other people.

“Unfortunately, that’s too rare a commodity. A lot of people in our industry haven’t had very diverse experiences. So they don’t have enough dots to connect, and they end up with very linear solutions without a broad perspective on the problem. The broader one’s understanding of the human experience, the better design we will have. – Steve Jobs, Wired, Feb 1996

So today I’m sharing 6 awesomely odd muses inspiring me lately:

1. Esther Williams – The other night, one of those That’s Entertainment shows was on where they highlight different moments in famous musicals. It happened to be a long clip of one of Esther Williams’ routines–a huge water ballet slash circus slash aquamusical.

Esther Williams Underwater

million dollar mermaid

Esther Williams in the Million Dollar Mermaid

That this kind of over the top performance ever happened just makes me grin…

It inspires me not necessarily to waterdance or waterski but to go write!  I guess this is in the same category as Dancing with the Stars for me.

Easy to Love Esther Williams

2. Autumnal Soups – I love soup year-round but it dominates my menus in autumn, and especially now that I’ve been refined sugar sober for about 40 days because I’ve been relying on soup as a weird kind of dessert (pumpkin soup can stand in for pumpkin muffins, for example). They also make my creativity go beserk. Interesting. My theories are that autumnal soup is either just a needed change or a taste linked to memories. Who knows!

3. The DMV and Other Black Holes for People Watching – You would think The Department of Motor Vehicles would be great for people watching, but somehow it’s not. I think it’s because everyone becomes comatose in there. It’s a place so mind-numbingly boring (no wifi!) that you write for hours once you get out of there like a prisoner who has been released.

4. Corn Mazes – These are all the rage where I live. This one actually shouldn’t surprise me because I’ve been reading about the meditative use of labyrinths as a place where you have permission to get lost while moving forward, which is rather fascinating. But add in squealing kids, awkward teenager hoards, and the Freddy Kruger chasing you with a chainsaw at random intervals, and boom. I was reaching for my phone and typing in notes like crazy.

Maislabyrinth in DelingsdorfCC BY-SA 3.0view terms Karsten Eggert - Own work

Maislabyrinth in Delingsdorf CC BY-SA 3.0
Karsten Eggert

5. Putting on Tights – Colder weather means I’ve broken out my collection of tights. Putting on said tights usually indicates that I’m heading out somewhere, so the fact that putting them on floods my mind with ideas is a little strange–and inconvenient. But if muses come in the form of tights, who am I to snub that? Maybe the process of donning them reminds me of back-to-school or maybe it’s just that I don’t want to go run errands. I finally just admitted to myself that this is a thing and moved a pad of notepaper next to my box of leggings.

6. Animal-watching – I don’t own a pet and I don’t write about animals much, but one of my favorite walks is through a dog park. For a while now, I’ve stopped watching the owners for inspiration. Now I watch the dogs more, which is kinda funny. This one basset hound was awesome inspiration for a woman in a short story I was working on, for example. Another favorite walk takes me by an aviary. Owls have such an interesting energy and I find myself stopping to watch them in connection with one of my villains I’m creating.

Please share your weird inspirations. My writerly subconscious can always use more suggestions.

6 thoughts on “Finding Esther Williams, or Other Writing Muses

  1. ldlagarino

    Cindy, When I reflect on life, my life, I tend to draw inspiration from disappointment, failure and mishap more than the handful of things that went well. I can convert moments of weakness and cowardice into strong, heroic actions by characters saying all the right things, responding in ways I wish I had. Where else but in our imaginations can we create such turbulent worlds and emerge unscathed?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. cindygrigg

      Beautifully said and great to hear from you. I’ve thought similar things whenever I get into stressful situations. Those things can feed our writing, even though like you said, it’d sure be nice to say or do things right the first time. But none of us do, so writing is awesome for that. Thanks again for sharing.


  2. S.B. Roberts

    Fall and all the things that come with it seem to inspire me to write, too. Maybe it’s from a few years in a row of NaNoWriMo or that my students are knee-deep in creative writing this time of year. Or perhaps it’s that warm drinks are more comfortable since the weather’s changing, and there’s just something special about that golden hue everything takes in the afternoons.

    Anyways, I find weird inspiration everywhere, and I’m never sure where it will sneak up on me next. But that’s certainly part of the fun of it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Nihar Pradhan

    Wonderful post!!! Yes, being involved in “Creativity” is a great feeling. But how we create is something we just cannot define, rightly said so. Seeing human breaking human barriers and creating new frontiers are always a massive source of inspiration to the humankind. Human imagination sees no boundary and it is a vital source for magical innovations in life…


      1. Nihar Pradhan

        So much true. Connecting the dots and figuring out new perspective in the joined lines or in the adjoined circles, all comes out from the creative eye and imaginative mind…I am enjoying your writing!!!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s