People have often asked me what inspires me to create a new book with new characters who are engaged in the events of a world of my imagination? It’s often a word or a phrase that strikes me in such a way that I am catapulted into a mood of creativity. Or it might be a distortion of a real-life event that gets me going. Or a topic of discussion. Some people, like Paul McCartney, dream. He dreamed “Yesterday”, and then wrote it down–music and lyrics–upon awakening! Don’t I wish!
But, today is a special day in the history of our country. It is on this day fifty years ago, that one of the greatest moments of inspiration sprang forth. Did it spark in the mind of Mahalia Jackson, as she watched Martin Luther King, Jr. make what might have been remembered as an earnest, but ultimately forgettable, ten minute speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial before a quarter of a million people?
“Tell them about the dream, Martin,” she urged her friend at the podium at the nine minute mark in his prepared speech.
It wasn’t a new premise. The Reverend Dr. King had used “the dream” theme before at the pulpit. And yet I wonder who really inspired whom that day in 1963. Was it really just the spark of a thought in the mind of Miss. Jackson, or the ineffable vision set before Dr. King of the vast determined gathering of humanity, committed, as he was, to a cause of achieving long-delayed justice for an oppressed segment of our society? Was it the collective offspring of millions of souls that had lived and died in slavery that blessed the speaker to preach with such eloquence? Or was it a chance confluence of all these things?
Inspiration as define in Merriam-Webster:
a) a divine influence or action on a person believed to qualify him or her to receive and communicate sacred revelation b) the action or power of moving the intellect or emotions c) the act of influencing or suggesting opinions.
So by definition King was inspired that day. It was so inspired that Dorothy Parker named Martin Luther King, Jr. to inherit her estate in her will.
Where it all came from, who can say? But, as inspiration also means to draw in breath, I like to think of it as drawing in the breath of the divine spirit.
Until next time,