“In Palumbo’s riveting third Daniel Rinaldi mystery (after 2011’s FEVER DREAM), answers prove elusive as the murders begin to pile up. Palumbo ratchets up the stakes in this psychological thriller, but maintains the emotional complexity…” --- Publisher’s Weekly


One of my favorite moments in Neil Simon's play The Odd Couple occurs when Oscar invites the Pigeon Sisters down for dinner, and a reluctant Felix is trying to make conversation with the ebullient young women. Asked what he does for a living, Felix tells them he writes the news.

"Really?" says a Pigeon.  "Where do you get your ideas?"

The idea of "inspiration," as it's commonly understood, does a great deal of damage to writers. For one thing, it devalues craft, which I think is the most important part of writing.  It also, as I've cautioned before, reinforces the notion that the writer himself o herself is somehow not enough. That some special talent or knowledge or divine gift, some thing outside of the writer, is necessary.

Inspiration, by its very nature, cannot be grasped or looked for, and certainly not commanded to show up. It emerges, unbidden; embedded, I believe, in the deepening layers of craft a writer develops.

I often recommend a book by George Leonard called Mastery to my writer clients. It's a short, simple defense of the concept of "practice," of craft for its own sake. Leonard contends that the peaks of achievement, whether in the arts, sports, or any area of endeavor, come from a love of the day-to-day practice of the thing. Because the truth is, in any consistent endeavor, you spend most of the time not on the peaks but on the level ground, where you rarely see any noticeable improvement.  If you just live for, or get pleasure from, the peaks, you never grow.  Love the craft, the practice of your art, and the peaks will come.

I conceptualize inspiration in the same way Learn the writer's craft, write regularly, grow to love the practice for is own sake and inspiration will either come on a particular day or it won't, but you'll have prepared thew way for it.

Given the shifting winds of fortune that accompany any writer's life, the smart money is on craft, practice, the doing of the thing.

If inspiration shows up, so much the better.

From Writing From The Inside Out

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