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Editor's Note

The Intentional Theory of Inspiration

I’ve always valued honesty over artifice, the stink of authenticity over the convenience of half-truths. Therefore I feel compelled to eschew convention and introduce this issue devoted to imagination, creativity, and the excitement of discovery by addressing my frequent lack thereof. The simple fact is that when I’m not engaged in the work of this magazine, too often I walk through life in an uninspired haze. Is that the literary equivalent of blasphemy? Maybe. Did I just drive home the final nail in my muse’s coffin? I don’t think so.

Whether I slog through the seemingly banal activities of a typical day—paying the bills, folding the laundry, dragging the trash can to the curb in the morning and back to the house at night—with more gravity than my fellow creative writers, I can’t say. More likely I suffer from the condition that contributing editor Frank Bures refers to on page 49: “what researcher Linda Stone calls ‘continuous partial attention,’ never fully tuned in to anything, but always partially tuned in to everything.” Don’t get me wrong: I’ve experienced that rush at two in the morning when I look up and realize I’ve been writing since sundown. More than once I’ve been blindsided by an idea for an essay while engaged in something as vapid as scraping grains of rice from a dinner plate. But those are exceptions. And there was a time when I felt like less of a writer because of that. Not anymore.

What I’ve come to realize is that I am driven by the goal (not the promise) of being inspired. Living an inspired writing life isn’t automatic. You can’t just muddle through the day expecting your imagination to kick in like a life-support machine.

With all this in mind we asked our contributors to approach the topic of inspiration from a slightly more practical perspective than is typical of a celebration of the muse. While this magazine exists in part to inspire, the rest of the world is far less accommodating. No one is going to stop the whole show and make sure you’re getting your daily dose of inspiration. You have to put yourself in a position to discover something new. You can start by reading the articles, essays, and interviews (all presented in full color for the first time in the magazine’s twenty-five-year history) that fill our fourth annual Inspiration Issue. I think you’ll find some words in here that will help you make the most out of the New Year.

So what are you waiting for? Turn the light on.

Kevin Larimer

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