Calvin and Hobbes on Writing
Articles,  General,  Literary


Calvin and Hobbes on Writing

Inspire: (to) stimulate for creative activity, animate (a person) with feeling, create (a feeling) in a person …

Inspiration: creative force or influence, stimulating creativity, divine influence …

This is how the Oxford Dictionary defines the words ‘inspire’ and ‘inspiration’. But ask most people and they will tell you that a mere definition of something like ‘inspiration’ is not enough to clarify it. In fact I will go so far as to say that the definition downright doesn’t do it justice.

I could add a million quotes by famous people on their intrepretation of ‘inspiration’ but I’m not going to. I’m going to try and see what tiny lil’ me can come up with, taking inspiration from those quotes themselves.

What is inspiration? Is it a feeling? Or a thought? Or just this vague, abstract emotion that one finds really difficult to explain?

Or maybe all of the above? Maybe … but in all probability, we might never completely find out. And maybe this ‘hazy’ attribute is what keeps the idea of ‘inspiration’ still magical for us. More so in a world where the youth are becoming increasingly battle-hardened and weary, even before stepping into adulthood.

However I find that it is easier to list your sources of inspiration for one thing or another. Here is what I had written in an essay about ‘What has inspired me to become a writer’

I’m inspired almost every day by a random quote or a paragraph in the newspaper. I’m inspired by music, one single song, one good movie. I’m inspired by the fact that I can reach out to people through my writing, people I’ve never met and probably will never met, and touch their lives in some small, seemingly insignificant way. That I can have a legitimate outlet for sharing all that I have inside of me with the world, when expressing myself through any other medium is ineffective.

What has inspired me to become a writer and continues to do so? The ‘perfect’ answer is elusive.”


I’m sure that I’m not alone in listing these inspirations. I’m sure that each one of us gets inspired at least once a day- some times never even realising it- and those of us who have that happy realisation try to make sense of it in a form that others will understand. My medium for such communication and expression is writing. Always has been. Always will be. (I hope!) It has become so much a part of me that I find myself unconsciously forming random bits of sentences or phrases in my mind, or describing people or places around me to myself, in my head. And without writing, I’d probably be unable to put across most of my thoughts and ideas and observations, and then I’d probably explode at some point in time because of keeping it all inside 😛

Some people might go so far as to say that books and writing are my addictions, and until 2 days ago I probably would’ve agreed with them. 2 days ago I finally watched The Basketball Diaries from start to finish and it got me thinking. A LOT.

This movie (for those of you not in the know) is about Jim Carroll, a guy living in the poorer areas of New York, and how he goes from star basketball player and a guy with intelligence and potential, to a drug addict. And his journey through that darkness into eventual light.

There is a part in the movie when he’s been clean for a few consecutive days and he’s trying to write. But he comes up with nothing. He’s gotten so used to being on a high and getting ‘inspiration’ then that he’s forgotten how to do it when he’s clean. That’s when he says that ‘what hurts more is not the fact that I’m trying not to take drugs, but the fact that I cannot write … And that is what is unbearable’

And I can surely agree with that. The part about it physically and emotionally hurting to not be able to write.

But then I got thinking about addictions in general and how people say ‘Oh drug/alcohol/sex addictions are bad but music addictions and movie addictions and even for that matter, Harry Potter or Twilight addictions are good …’ 

The Oxford Dictionary defines the word ‘addict’ as ‘ (n) person addicted, esp to a drug, (AND more importantly for me) a devotee (for example: a film devotee).

And then I came to the conclusion that no addiction is really ‘good’. I mean movie or music or food or book addictions are probably not life-threatening (unless of course someone goes completely psycho and starts acting out a dangerous part from his favourite horror movie or his favourite book), but that doesn’t mean that most of them aren’t detrimental in the long run. Because I can safely guess that they are.

I can also hazard a guess and say that there is a fine line between passion and addiction (or obsession … which falls under the same category) and if we have any sort of self-preservation instincts (most of us do!) we always need to be aware of where this line is and where we stand in comparision to it.

Balance or at least trying to maintain one is the key in everything I guess (I am ‘guessing’ an awful lot, arent I?) Or maybe these are the ramblings of someone who is just trying to make sense of the world and herself. Just like most the people on this planet do, in some way or the other. And hoping that she will see the light in the future. Even for a couple of moments of realisation. Optimism or foolishness? You decide.

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  • Udayan Kotibhaskar

    The concept of ‘inspiration’ is pretty abstract and you’ve done pretty well here in trying to find out what it means. Sometimes we read a phrase and even when we take it out of context, we end up being ‘inspired’ by it. Does this mean we subconsciously alter the situation, if at all we take it in the wrong context, in order to be ‘inspired’ to do things that we really love to do, just ‘find a bloody good reason’? ‘Inspiration’ strikes a deep chord within our minds, probably sparks that momentary self-belief within us that convince us to begin or resume/continue following our dreams. Bigger dreams need stronger inspirations. So do dumber people. I personally think ‘inspiration’ is a loosely thrown word. ‘Inspiration’ inevitably leads to results. If it’s strong enough, it shows. if it isn’t, it won’t.

    Writing is a wonderful way to vent out our feelings. And at the end of the day, we might end up ‘inspiring’ someone with our words. 😉

    Tai, I am sure you know what “Aati tithe maati.” means. Extremes are never advised. But that doesn’t mean they are never allowed. 😛

    P. S. – Guess what?! You’ve ‘inspired’ me to resume my blogging. Will let you know as and when I update it next.

    Cheers Gooner Girl, keep your fingers dancing on the keyboard. 🙂

  • Fab

    Aw Anu 🙂
    That sounds so beautiful, you did a nice
    work in this blog 😀
    Although I had to check up the dictionary
    a few times >< but that what you wrote
    made me think.
    And as you might know, I am the optimist
    here 😉 So I believe in the good side, no
    foolishness here 🙂
    And I like the cursive/italic written part 🙂

  • Anand

    Hindu culture extolls the virtue of moderation-after all, Lord Ram is called the “Maryada-Purushottam”, the well-balanced one. So passion and balance are always pulling us in opposite directions. But balance is so boring.Luckily we have enough variety of gods with every shade of behaviour. My personal favorite is Lord Krishna-the one with many passions!! I suspect He had more fun!

  • Emmanuel

    nice take on what inspiration is! The whole piece oozes of a sweet aroma of irony that is wafting itself up my nose and into my cerebral cortex. It’s deliciously ironic in the way the author’s search for the meaning behind inspiration…has in turn inspired me to search for what inspires me.

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