Ashliegh Gehl

Posted on July 23, 2011 by Ashliegh Gehl on her blog

She has also written a profile of Laurie.


Laurie Lewis on writing from inspiration


I had the pleasure of interviewing first time author Laurie Lewis last week. During the interview, it hit me. I harbour a novice, romanticism toward writing. It revealed itself in my questioning.

My first question was standard. What inspired you to write Little Comrades?

“It wasn’t really a question of inspiration,” she said. “It wasn’t really like that at all. I don’t know whether writers write from inspiration, do they? I can’t really say. I certainly wasn’t starting out to write a book. I was writing little pieces of memories. Little tiny pieces of things that I remembered. And they sort of grew and grew and it became a kind of patchwork quilt. And then suddenly, I had a whole book.”

Throughout the interview Lewis made a number of references that involved writers just sitting down to write. That repeated advice acted more like a mantra. Sit down and do it. Even a character in her book sits down at a typewriter and says, “This is for the rent money.”

As a writer, I can relate. It’s the constant ebb and flow of generating ideas, pitching ideas and with fingers crossed, hoping those ideas are well crafted enough to sell. But where does inspiration fit in? And when I’m writing these pieces, am I writing them from a source of inspiration?

For the most part, the idea generates from something heard. It’s training the ear for the ambiguous. The oddity. It’s not really an inspirational, standing on top Mt. Fuji, arms stretched, moment of self-realization.

Even when I asked her what the common misconception is about writing, she made a point of saying that people think it stems from inspiration. But really, it could be anything.

“Maybe the biggest misconception is that it requires inspiration,” said Lewis. “It doesn’t. It requires work. And it requires a brain. And it requires brainwork. I don’t write fiction. I don’t think I’d know how to write fiction. I write bits of poetry. One of the first places to publish me was the Queen’s Feminist Review. I don’t think it’s a question of inspiration at all. I think you just have to sit down and do it. They say the biggest lesson for a writer to learn is you have to put the seat of the pants in the seat of the chair.”

I couldn’t agree with her more. But it is nice to think there’s a shard of inspiration seeded in the act of telling stories.