What Inspiration Looks Like (October Theme Post from Jody Feldman)

The number one question I get asked in school visits? Some form of ...
What inspired you to write your books?
Where do you get your inspiration?
How do you get your ideas?

I used to borrow an answer from another author – exactly who, I can’t remember and I’m sorry for that.* But it was a he, and at a conference some years ago, he spoke of going to a magical river in the heart of Africa and drinking deeply from its inspiration whenever he needed a good idea.

After saying that, I would go on to explain ...
For me inspiration and ideas are simply floating around the universe. My eyes and ears, and especially my brain and gut are always on standby. When a word or sight or sound or smell or feeling intrigues me, I perk up and I pay attention ...

... which is all well and good, but whenever that pretty explanation rolled off my tongue, I felt as if it fell to the floor and stuck there like a grey blob. Sure, I’d see nods of understanding, but did they really get it? Or were they left as unmoved as I was?

Then one day ...

I put my critique services up for auction in support of author Bridget Zinn, one of the loveliest women I’ve ever been privileged to meet. While I was at the auction site, I also browsed to possibly bid on something for myself. And there it was – a spread from the Caldecott honor book, The Way to Start a Day by Byrd Baylor and illustrator Peter Parnall.

One look at this picture, and I knew: Here was the perfect expression of my explanation ...
The brilliance is out there. It’s just a matter of noticing.

*A signed book to anyone who can tell me who the Idea River author is.


  1. I don't know who the river idea author is, but I wanted to thank you for mentioning The Way to Start a Day. I always loved those books by Byrd Baylor and had completely forgotten about them.

    Going to look them up today.


  2. Jody, I love the art and I'm sorry I don't know who the author is. What a beautiful thought. Thanks for sharing.


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