Where Inspiration is Born

Where Inspiration is Born

April 26, 2012

Have you ever read any of Mo Willems’ Pigeon books?  They are very popular with the toddler set and feature a stick figure rendering of a bird, “Pigeon,” who boasts two big circles for eyes and a highly melodramatic attitude.  Kids – and, dare I say their parents – love this pathetic, downtrodden creature. 

Willems was interviewed this week by Renee Montagne on NPR.  It was a fun and lively interview that initially caught my attention due to the author’s animated and jovial voice; I couldn’t help but smile as I listened to him describe Pigeon’s latest trials and tribulations in the newly published, The Duckling Gets a Cookie!? 

What really drew me in though were not the specifics of the story.  Rather, it was Willems’ description of how Pigeon came to be. 

He is the only creation, the only character I’ve ever created that I didn’t create. I really wanted to make children’s books. I wanted to make picture books. So I spent a month in Oxford, England, thinking it would make me smarter. And it didn’t. And I made all these really terrible books.

And in the margins, I started drawing this pigeon who was complaining about the other books, who was saying, ‘Don’t write about them, write about me – I’m funnier. Stop this. This isn’t funny.’ That sort of thing. And so, eventually I, sort of, I gave in and I turned him into a sketchbook that I give for clients and friends. And sort of by accident, this got into the hands of an agent. And, you know, now look at the mess I’m in.

I am struck by Willems’ willingness to embrace the byproduct of the work that he originally set out to perform.  Pigeon – and the series he inspired – was born of doodles in the margins of Willems’ papers.  That Willems gave himself permission to listen to the messages shouted by his subconscious – to abandon the original assignments that he was given is none short of brilliant!

So, from where do you take your inspiration?  Is it from music, from art, from sports, from food, from people?  For me, especially as this blog – and its topics (e.g. networking, leadership, entrepreneurship, et al) – are consistently on my mind, I find that inspiration can come from any number of sources.  Indeed, now that CoffeeLunchCoffee consumes my psyche, I am struck by how frequently, throughout any given day, inspiration lurks in conversations about seemingly innocuous topics, sits facing me over my morning Coca-Cola, pops out from the rafters of whatever venue I happen to be in. 

With that, I urge you to tune your senses to points of inspiration.  Look for it wherever you find yourself.  Be very present.  Take notice of your environs, of the people around you, of the activity going on.  Begin to connect dots.  I am certain that you will be inspired.  Go on.  Try it today.

And, I invite you to share a little inspiration with me and the CoffeeLunchCoffee community.  Tell us your stories of the places that you find or have found inspiration, especially as they relate to relationship building, networking or career development.  You never know… you may just be the muse that inspires the next great cup of Coffee!