Archives for category: Inspiration

By Miroslav Holub

Go and open the door.
Maybe outside there’s
A tree, or a wood,
A garden,
Or a magic city.
Go and open the door.
Maybe a dog’s rummaging,
Maybe you’ll see a face,
or an eye,
or the picture
of a picture.
Go and open the door,
If there’s a fog
It will clear.
Go and open the door.
Even if there’s only
The darkness ticking,
Even if there’s only
The hollow wind,
even if
is there,
go and open the door.
at least
there’ll be
a draught.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Miroslav Holub (1923-1998) was a Czech poet and immunologist. who wrote many poems using his scientific knowledge to poetic effect.

Painting: “Psyche Opening the Door…” by John William Waterhouse(1904)


“I decided that it was not wisdom that enabled poets to write their poetry, but a kind of instinct or inspiration, such as you would find in seers and prophets who deliver all their sublime messages without knowing in the least what they mean.” SOCRATES

Photo:  Alice PopKorn


It is possible for the human spirit to win after all.”


Photo: Joelk75


Born on March 12, 1922 as Jean-Louis Lebris de Kerouac at 9 Lupine Road in Lowell, Massachusetts, to French-Canadian parents, Beat novelist Jack Kerouac lived a short, eventful life (he passed away at age 47) — but his books and poetry continue to inspire. His mantra was ecstasy — and he encouraged all of us to find joy everywhere and in everything.

“…the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars.”  JACK KEROUACOn the Road (1957)




When the New Yorker published its first-ever science fiction issue — a double issue dated June 4 & 11, 2012 — no one predicted that the magazine would include Ray Bradbury‘s last published writing. (Bradbury passed away on June 5, 2012 a few month short of his 92nd birthday.)

Entitled “Take Me Home,” Bradbury’s contribution to the New Yorker‘s science fiction issue discusses the author’s favorite books as a child and includes a poignant reminiscence about a 4th of July spent with his grandfather. Read “Take Me Home” at

Cover illustration: Daniel Clowes, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED



A few years before his death in 2012 at age 91, Ray Bradbury shared his thoughts about his life and his writing with interviewer Sam Weller in The Paris Review (Summer 2012). Here are excerpts from the interview that focus on Bradbury’s sources of inspiration and techniques for getting inspired. 


I used to study Eudora Welty. She has the remarkable ability to give you atmosphere, character, and motion in a single line. In one line! You must study these things to be a good writer. Welty would have a woman simply come into a room and look around. In one sweep she gave you the feel of the room, the sense of the woman’s character, and the action itself. All in twenty words. And you say, How’d she do that? What adjective? What verb? What noun? How did she select them and put them together?

I was an intense student. Sometimes I’d get an old copy of [Thomas] Wolfe and cut out paragraphs and paste them in my story, because I couldn’t do it, you see. I was so frustrated! And then I’d retype whole sections of other people’s novels just to see how it felt coming out. Learn their rhythm. 


…in the old days I knew I had to dredge my subconscious…I did it by making lists of nounsand then asking, What does each noun mean? …The night. The crickets. The train whistle. The basement. The attic. The tennis shoes. The fireworks…Then, when you get the list down, you begin to word-associate around it. You ask, Why did I put this word down? What does it mean to me? Why did I put this noun down and not some other word? Do this and you’re on your way to being a good writer…Make a list of ten things you hate and tear them down in a short story or poem. Make a list of ten things you love and celebrate them. 

...I started to write short, descriptive paragraphs, two hundred words each, and in them I began to examine my nouns. Then I’d bring some characters on to talk about that noun and that place, and all of a sudden I had a story going. I used to do the same thing with photographs that I’d rip out of glossy magazines. I’d take the photographs and I’d write little prose poems about them.

…When I look at the paintings of Edward Hopper, it does this. He did those wonderful townscapes of empty cafes, empty theaters at midnight with maybe one person there. The sense of isolation and loneliness is fantastic. I’d look at those landscapes and I’d fill them with my imagination…

by Gary Snyder

It comes blundering over the
Boulders at night, it stays
Frightened outside the
Range of my campfire
I go to meet it at the
Edge of the light

Photo: Eugene Dodonov


Cartoonist Matt Diffee offers insight into the creative process by explaining how he developed his “Skywriter’s Block” cartoon. (Read the entire article at the New Yorker.)

I started by jotting down the words “writer’s block.”…I started by playing with those words. First I thought of alternative meanings of the words themselves. So “writer’s block” could be a city block where writers live. It could be writers playing with children’s building blocks, or a football block performed by a writer. You can see there’s probably a joke to be had among those options, but I don’t think it would be a very good one. Might be more “punny” than funny.

You could mess around with the “writer” part of the phrase, too, and make it “rider’s block.” You could take that as far as you wanted and get “horse-rider’s block” or “subway-rider’s block.” I don’t think I pursued that angle very much.

I mostly thought in terms of replacing the “writer” with another occupation. I jotted down things like “dentist’s block,” “taxidermist’s block,” “proctologist’s block,” “ventriloquist’s block,” and then a bunch of occupations that end in “-er” like “plumber’s block” and “butcher’s block” (which has its own punny potential).

In the end, I found the gag by adding words to the phrase. Where can you add words to it? In the middle? Not really. At the end? “Writer’s block and tackle.” “Writer’s blockade.” At the beginning? Sure, “copywriter’s block,” “grant-writer’s block,” then eventually I came to “skywriter’s block” and BAM, there’s the idea…

CREDIT: New Yorker cartoon by Matt Diffee, all rights reserved


The purpose of art is to wash the dust of daily life off our souls.” PABLO PICASSO

Illustration: “Lavandière” (laundress) by Pablo Picasso (1962)