The close of August may mean the unofficial end of summer, but in my area it also means the beginning of the collegiate football season, or gridiron as it is known in much of the rest of the world. I never moved far after graduating from college, allowing me the opportunity to attend a number of games each season. Occasionally the boys come along too, at least once per season. There are a number of rival schools in the area, and we don’t want to risk that they might actually favor one of the alternatives when it is time to apply to college. Indoctrination starts early.
The problem with the season opener is that as much as we complain about summer being over, the mercury tells a different story. Between the sun and the stands packed so tightly, sardine cans look spacious by comparison, it can get extremely hot. This weekend’s game was to be played at twelve thirty on a 90+ degree day (32+C). It was going to be a scorcher.
After finding our seats, I noticed that my son was in need of some additional sunscreen. Rummaging through my bag, I found a left over tube. It was nearly empty, but spending the next several hours uncovered was not an option. I twisted and folded that tube, gratefully scrapping away even the smallest drop until I was able to cover the majority of his exposed skin. I didn’t have as much as I would have liked, but it would have to be enough to get us through the day unburnt.
Inspiration can sometimes be like a tube of sunscreen. Sometimes the tube is brand new, and will flow by itself as soon as the cap comes off. Those are the days I risk being too verbose. I have to force myself to hold back, saving some of those ideas for another day. Other days, the tube is near empty, but I twist it and bend it making use of whatever I can find. Why? Because I want to spend my time in the sunlight, but my skin is less forgiving now.
When you run out of sunscreen, all you have to do is run down to the local corner store and pick up a new bottle. Is finding inspiration or coming up with the next big idea just as easy? I like to think so. Yes, I’ve experienced writer’s block more often than I’d like, but a trip to the store can be just as easily delayed by a lack of gas in the tank.
I’ve been asked how I come up with ideas for what I am going to write about. First, I read. I read a lot. I read books, other blogs, news stories, and message boards. Many times I am participating in a conversation, except the other party doesn’t always realize we are communicating. Other times, I go for a walk. Nature abhors a vacuum. If I clear my mind long enough, something is bound to fill it. Finally I just start typing. I’ve surprised myself more than once.
The next great idea could be just around the corner, you just have to open your eyes wide enough to recognize what it is you are looking for.