Written by Denise Turney
I loved this book. Where Inspiration Lives celebrates the triumphs, the journey and the creations of some of America’s great artists. From novelists to painters to poets, Where Inspiration Lives illustrates key life events that helped an artist to know which choice to make (i.e. whether to pursue a teaching job or whether to earn a living painting). You know. The types of choices we all, at some point in our lives, must make.
The artists are revealing in the book. They hold no punches when they share highs and lows they experienced while they took one step after another to become the renowned artists they are. For instance, the creator of the hit movie The Last Picture Show has this to say about his hometown Archer City, the place The Last Picture Show was based on: “Archer City is a strong landscape for me. . . you go out into the world and then bring what you want of the world back home with you.” Perhaps this is what we all do, be we artists or not.
Georgia O’Keeffe’s inspiration was New Mexico. Much of her work is associated with New Mexico’s landscape. She came upon New Mexico in 1929 when she was hiking through the area’s rugged hills. She returned to the city in 1951 to pick up a friend from the airport. It was this trip that changed her life; she fell in love with the place. She shares this with readers in the book, “When I first came to New Mexico, I was so crazy about it. I thought, how can I take part of it with me to work on.” Later she states, “I have slept out under the stars. There isn’t a crack of the waking day or night that isn’t full.”
Where Inspiration Lives shows readers how the everyday events in their lives can be used to inspire creation as well as to encourage others to live their best life. All around us is enough beauty to work with to create a masterpiece. That is one of the great truths that springs forth from reading Where Inspiration Lives. One of the most frank stories shared in the book is the piece on Terry McMillan, bestselling novelist and author of the books Waiting to Exhale and The Interruption of Everything. Like all of the artists in the book, Terry is forthcoming. She’s blunt. Her exposition is filled with a rocking sense of humor. One of the things readers may be surprised to find out from Terry McMillan’s piece in the book is that she puts bits and pieces of herself in her work. As she states, “life throws a whole lot at you. I’m interested in discovering how my characters get through it.” Not only do Terry McMillan and the other artists in the book take real life events and have their characters work through them to allow readers to learn creative ways to work through their own life challenges, the artists in Where Inspiration Lives go a step further and place themselves in their characters shoes. In this the artists provide real life lessons to both new and avid readers. Terry McMillan says, “I always put myself in my books. It’s an opportunity for me to recognize my own weaknesses and flaws.”
Where Inspiration Lives provides more than anecdotes, memorable quotes, and honest revelation. The book’s pages come alive with striking pictures, drawings and snapshots. For example, the pages of “Walden Pond” are filled with color and contrast. This is the piece about the widely respected writer Henry David Thoreau, the man who penned the words, “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation. . . . But it is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things.” This engaging book closes with, “We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aids, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn.”
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