Inspiration is the spark of life for writers. When we sit down at our keyboards, it's like sliding into your car on a bitterly cold morning, turning the key and hoping the engine cranks.
There's nothing better than a reliable car on a winter morning when you have to get going and be somewhere on time. Likewise, inspiration is a life-saver when you're staring at a blank screen and facing a deadline.
In this issue, Joe Wessels got his column idea (link) on a ride-along with local police. C.A. MacConnell was inspired by a personal struggle (link). Kevin Osborne got his inspiration (link) the old-fashioned way: Someone told him a good story.
My idea this week comes from no such lofty place. No serendipitous encounter. No personal demons.
I was watching one of the playoff football games on Sunday and got blasted with non-stop promotion of the Feb.
3 Super Bowl. Tom Petty's appearance as star of the halftime show was drilled into my brain, where it took root.
Soon I was humming Petty songs, some of which are snappy. Then I was singing snippets of choruses. Finally I sought a hammer to bash my skull in.
But the damage was done. I was playing with my 3-year-old son, the words to Petty's "The Waiting Is the Hardest Part" were running through my mind and I connected them to what I was doing. Idea formed. Engine cranked.
I'm not proud, but I have a column.
As I see it, there are two kinds of waiting. Both require certain levels of patience to keep from being driven mad.
I'm leaving for a big out-of-town trip in a few weeks, something I've looked forward to for many months. The anticipation is killing me.
But I've tried to enjoy the build-up as well. As I play through the trip details in my head, it's like I'm already there -- and the journey ends up lasting weeks and months instead of a single weekend. I kinda don't want it to get here too quickly now.
It's similar to how I feel playing with my son and daughter. I'd be happy if they stayed their current age for a while. I'm in no hurry for them to grow up.
I'm reminded of the other kind of waiting when I read the Letter to the Editor from ex-pat Cincinnatians in Texas (page 8) or when I consider the messages behind Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Fundamental social change -- whether improving local government leadership or healing America's black/white divide -- requires a long time, a lot of waiting and the patience of saints.
King preached a long-term view, saying that change was inevitable if society were pushed in the right direction. For many who still believe in his dream, the waiting truly is the hardest part.
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