Saturday, July 6, 2013

Inspiration - Solar Impulse

I'm a writer. I'm currently in between books. In between books is a scary place. It doesn't really exist. Kind of like the other side of the moon. As I contemplate the next phase of my writing career, I'm looking to different sources for inspiration: my life, the books I read, the media. Sometimes a story in the news gets my creativity flowing in ways that might not feed in directly to what I'm working on, but lifts me just by the sheer example of human perseverance and ingenuity it provides. The unlikely journey of the Solar Impulse, completing its historic cross-country flight today, is one such example.

Like the creators and pilots of the Solar Impulse, nobody tells me what to do next as a writer. A book is a one-off flight across terrain that ideally has never before been seen. A writer in between books is kind of like the hero of Yeats' poem, An Irish Airman Foresees His Death:

...No law nor duty bade me fight, 
No public men nor cheering crowds...

What makes me want to keep taking this plunge into the vastness of infinite space? Is it the lonely impulse of delight that Yeats ascribed to his gloomy, heroic pilot? After all, the blank page is like that - the possibilities are endless and the trick is to keep pushing the envelope and not settle for what has gone before. Whether you are a financially successful writer, (all 10 of us), or not, the ideas must be fresh and the vision compelling. There must be delight in it. Otherwise why do it?

But more than individual pleasure, it also helps to have a higher good in mind.  Not many people talk about this, but there is a purpose to fiction writing. Stories help shape us and give us strength to carry the flame forward. By not hewing to the known, by not pandering to the concepts or stereotypes that form the common consciousness, stories clarify and mold our awareness of the reality we all swim in.

Writing is exploration, which when done with purpose and intelligence, is really about the challenge of solving a new puzzle, and that's why I take as my inspiration today the story of the Solar Impulse, an example of intrepid exploration that is helping to push change in the spheres of science, engineering, and social organization, and in the process providing a lift to all of us as we celebrate the spirit of independence and the unleashing of humanity's potential.

(Photo courtesy of the Solar Impulse)
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