When I was five or six years old, I would lie on my Grandmother Lovey's sofa and get lost in a print hanging on the wall above me. Not a very good print of the village blacksmith, it nonetheless captivated me -- I would drift from one corner to the other, finding new details in the contrasting light and shadow, inventing stories about the characters, human and animal, who inhabited that wonderfully mysterious world. It was, I'm convinced, one of my earliest forays into becoming a writer. I loved that print, which an uncle won for being one of the first shoppers at a grocery store's grand opening. He gave it to my grandmother, who gave it to me in 2000, remembering how much I'd loved it as a boy. It has hung above the sofa in my living room since, a daily reminder that I have lived through my imagination almost from the start, and that while Lovey left us in 2006, her beauty and brilliance remain in evidence.
On Thursday of last week I turned in the nearly 100,000-word manuscript for my short and long story collection forthcoming from Evil Jester Press, The Fierce and Unforgiving Muse -- unaware that by Monday my fantastic editor Peter Giglio would, based upon what he had read thus far, offer me an additional 100,000 words, creating a monster of a collection in terms of size and content. On Saturday, feeling very proud of what I had done and two days shy of the knowledge that I'd have another 400 pages to fill in quick order, I sat down in my living room to work on my NaNoWriMo novel. I got up to check on something -- the laundry, dinner, any number of the non-glamorous parts of daily life. When I returned, for a very brief and wonderful moment, the particular bent of the sunset touched upon my grandmother's beautiful print, recreating the contrast of light and shadow within but with a fresh and immediate vibrancy. A sense of inspiration so powerful as to be unforgettable embraced me and has been with me since as I now begin to pen, format, and edit those additional 100,000 words.