I don’t know about you, but I tend to think that great writing inspiration comes from something amazing. Something spectacular. Something so out of the ordinary that it hits me over the head, screaming, “HI THERE, I’M YOUR INSPIRATION!”
But not all inspiration comes like that. Sure, there have been a few times that I’ve been “struck by inspiration,” but most of the time, ideas spring from ordinary things.
The famous children’s author, Beatrix Potter, got her inspiration from the natural world around her.
Growing up, she and her brother Bertram were mostly left to their own devices. They owned a wild variety of animals, not limited to: lizards, birds, bats, mice, and rabbits. They even owned a snake named Sally.
Beatrix loved to draw and paint with watercolors. Her most common subjects were her pets.
She also had a fascination with mushrooms (like me) and studied them intensely (unlike me). She painted many of them, even finding a few rare species.
At age 37, Beatrix bought a farm in the Lake District—the very northernmost part of England, just south of Scotland. She called it “Hilltop Farm.”
She loved country life, returning to her land every chance she had. She raised sheep and pigs, planted gardens, and walked the countryside.
Here, she found much of her inspiration for some of her later books. The villagers loved finding their houses (and cats) in her adorable illustrations. I imagine it became quite the competition between them.
“But,” you might be saying, “Beatrix Potter wrote children’s books. I’m writing for teens. I’m not writing about bunnies. How does this apply to me?”
Everything we write about flows from God’s creation in some way. Even fantasy creatures.
Think about it, if I asked you to describe one of your fantastical creations, you’d describe it as “dragonlike” or “a combination of a tiger and a shark.”
Aren’t dragons, tigers, and sharks all animals from God’s creation?
It is worthwhile for us as writers to study the natural world around us. Even if we aren’t outdoor people.
Sometimes, the greatest inspiration comes from a walk in the woods, or even just down your street!
Just look at Beatrix.
Fun Facts about Beatrix:
- She began her career by painting Christmas cards. She was paid six pounds. (About $8.)
- When she tried to publish The Tale of Peter Rabbit for the first time, she received six rejections. Back then, there weren’t as many publishing houses as there are now.
She was determined to get her little book printed, so she “self-published,” hiring a printer to make 250 copies, most of which were bought by her aunts.
She paid eleven pounds ($14) for them to be printed and received about thirteen pounds ($17) from selling them.
- She hated drawing people. Once, her brother mistook Mr. McGregor’s ear to be his nose! She much preferred her furry friends.
- In 1910, she created her very own Peter Rabbit doll. She struggled to find a company to make them, but eventually found one.
Reminds me of Glendale. Maybe she had a section on her website called “Where’s Peter?” 😋
Where’s Glendale? Flashback!