Let me start off by sending many thanks to Tim Decker for my lovely graphic!
Second, leave it to me to ask a question that most likely can't be answered (not easily, anyway), though I do agree with what Mindy wrote in the previous post's comments (although to be honest, had I seen a child's beaded bracelet on the ground, my first thought would've been morbid, I think. But I'm hoping that's just from years of living in Baltimore and not because of any deficit in my creativity...ha ha?). A few years ago, at the Baltimore Book Festival, I was listening to a poet talk about something similar. I can't remember all the details, but she happened to see an old tricycle or something like that and ended up writing a poem about it. The point she made, though, was that most people would've seen it as trash (if they noticed it a'tall), but she, being the creative type she was, saw something else, or perhaps projected something else onto (into?) this rusted old piece of crap bike. Which makes me wonder if that's what it means to be "creative"? That is, seeing beauty (or whatever you want to call it) in the mundane, the morbid, the simple, the overlooked. Does that kind of stuff find it's way into the mind of a writer or an artist, or do they actively seek it? Or both?
I work at Johns Hopkins Hospital, and in the lobby of the main building, the original building off Broadway, is an enormous statue of Jesus (I call it MC 900 Ft Jesus, my sister calls it Gladiator Jesus. Happy Easter, everyone, BTW). I walk by it nearly every day. I walk by it, then by the security guard stand. After about a year of this, of walking by this ridiculously large marble statue, I suddenly started to think about it. Well, actually, I started to think about the security guard right next to it, and if there's a guard at the desk even after they close/lock the doors at the end of the day. I started to wonder if there was a security guard on duty in the middle of the night, and what it might feel like to be alone in that lobby, at night, with that big ole statue of JC. What would she do? Would she be aware of the statue? (Who wouldn't? It's ten freakin feet tall!) Would she feel it as a presence, is what I mean, I guess. Would she pray to it? Or would she just talk to it, like it was some kind of companion? And if she did start to talk to it, why?
I ended up writing a short story about that statue, about a young woman who thinks about that very idea. And that's great and all; I'm happy that the statue provided some kind of inspiration, but I can't help but wonder--why then? What was different on that particular day? Why did I suddenly see the statue in a different way? I can't figure it out. I want a guide or a formula. I want an instruction manual with Ikea-like pictographs. I want to be able to put my manuscript together with an allen wrench! I don't seem to be content to just chalk it up to inspiration or a muse or whatever.That feels so flimsy, so insubstantial. Such a tenuous thing to build a career on, don't you think?