Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Lost your inspiration? Queen Mab to the rescue!

From her literary debut in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, Queen Mab, queen of fairies, has been mentioned by poets and songwriters, novelists and screenwriters, throughout the centuries. Sometimes she's portrayed as a protagonist, other times as a villain.
Portrait of Percy Bysshe ShelleyImage via Wikipedia
Percy Bysse Shelley (who looks a little like Rob Pattinson aka Edward Cullen in this picture) was so fascinated by Mab she became the subject of his first major poetic work. Queen Mab is mentioned in Herman Melville's Moby Dick and Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility. She even made it into a music video by British pop band Duran Duran in the 1980s. (Oh yeah, Simon Le Bon!) 

Why did I choose a mythical miniature fairy for my female Inkspot? Because she embodies the mystery of human imagination and creativity, that secret realm of the God-given soul where stories and ideas and characters and pictures made of words or paint or marble are quickened and birthed into the earth.
You might think of Mab as the embodiment of the artist's muse, gathering the ingredients of thought, feeling, experience, memory, imagination, knowledge, wisdom, and so forth within the human heart, and stirring them into an all-new design like a master chef experimenting with recipes.
God, our creator, is a creative being, and we are made in His likeness and image, according to the Bible. As His children, we have access into that supernatural source of creativity all the time. How magical is that? 

I've heard so many women say, "I'm just not creative," when it comes to crafts, or hobbies, or any sort of creative endeavor. I've talked to Christians who have squelched their "overactive imaginations" because they couldn't reconcile their creative bent with the rigid systems of church organization and religion they've been exposed to. And I have friends who discount the amazing things they do in their homes, with their kids, in their wardrobes, and their kitchens as "normal."
Life demands creativity and imagination. Whether you're a writer or a janitor, an artist or a stay-at-home mom. Whether you are developing a plot twist, or devising a way to create a scrumptious meal for six with half a bag of lentils and a frozen chicken breast. Even organization and time management require inspiration. Ministry, marriage, and obeying God's instructions to love our neighbors are all in desperate need of a fresh infusion of creative pixie dust!
Just think: Someone had a spark of inspiration and invented the Chip Clip. Martha Stewart, love her or hate her, is a master of homemaking creativity. She's turned that creative spark into a multi-million dollar industry. More than once.
Are you a perfectionist? You probably have a death grip on your creativity because you're so terrified of doing something the "wrong" way. Guess what? It's usually the people who do it wrong who create a masterpiece that outlives them and blesses the generations to come.
Are you a (what's the opposite of a perfectionist?) ... slacker? I'm willing to bet you slack off because you need inspiration to do those tasks you don't enjoy. Good news for you! God has inspiration available for everything under the sun, and He knows just what YOU need to hear to move you forward.
Whatever you set your hand to this week, whether you've started NaNoWriMo or just started the laundry, remember Queen Mab. Let the mythical fairy be a mental reminder of the wealth of creativity you carry that's just waiting to enrich and empower your generation.
"... From her celestial car
The Fairy Queen descended,
And thrice she waved her wand
Circled with wreaths of amaranth;
Her thin and misty form
Moved with the moving air,
And the clear silver tones,
As thus she spoke, were such
As are unheard by all but gifted ear."

            —Queen Mab: A Philosophical Poem (Shelley)
This is just a segment of the complete poem, but I love the last part about her words "unheard by all but gifted ear." It reminds me of Jesus' words, "Let him who has ears to hear, hear." It's up to us whether or not we will listen to the stirrings of inspiration on the inside.
Here is a portion of Mercutio's monologue. Note the extraordinary details used to describe Mab's chariot.

"O, then, I see Queen Mab hath been with you.
She is the fairies’ midwife, and she comes
In shape no bigger than an agate-stone
On the fore-finger of an alderman,
Drawn with a team of little atomies
Athwart men’s noses as they lie asleep;
Her wagon-spokes made of long spinners’ legs,
The cover of the wings of grasshoppers,
The traces of the smallest spider’s web,
The collars of the moonshine’s watery beams,
Her whip of cricket’s bone; the lash of film;
Her waggoner a small grey-coated gnat,
Not half so big as a round little worm
Prick’d from the lazy finger of a maid:
Her chariot is an empty hazel-nut
Made by the joiner squirrel or an old grub,
Time out o’ mind the fairies’ coachmakers.
And in this state she gallops night by night—"

Mercutio in Romeo and Juliet, Act I, scene IV
Question for today: What do you do when your creativity gets droopy? How do you stir yourself back up?

Leave a comment in response, or just to say hello, and you'll be entered in a drawing to win a copy of my Bible study book, "Here Comes the Bride," about one of the most famous female Inkspots of all time -- the Proverbs 31 woman. Leave your e-mail address with spaces around the @ symbol to guard your address from spammers. Thanks for visiting today! Be blessed in all that you set your hand to!

~Niki Turner

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  1. Great post, Niki! and where did you find the animated Mab? so cool!

    the way I recharge my creativity to is to "plug in" to someone else's. It's not like I'm stealing cable! Creativity breeds creativity, I think. I go outside and photograph the beauty of God's flowers, watch a wonderful movie, read a great book, play with beautiful woven fabric or twisted yarns, look at paintings that thrill me with their color and light or, as you say, I eat a meal that is a perfect blend of textures, colors and tastes.

    We are made in the image of our Father, so it's in our genes!

  2. Mesmerizing post, Nikki!
    Hmmm, to stir up creativity?

    It's music, streaming through my old CD player (yes, I do it myyyyy way). My collection screams of eclectisim and freqently matches my WIP site.
    Yesterday the haunting fiddle chords of Liz Carroll tweaked my romantic soul as I edited a friend's...romantic suspense. Set in...Pakistan???

    It's music. Can't explain it!


  3. I love, love, love this!!! I really try to live my life according to where I feel the inspiration of the Holy Spirit leading me, because I'm so much more productive that way.

    Usually the best way for me to find inspiration is in nature and by exposing myself to all sorts of fine art.

    When I taught college, I always gave an assignment for the students to "create" something in response to a piece of literature and present it to the class. I often had students who said they weren't creative. As I would mentor them through the process, it almost inveritably turned out that these were the most sensitive and creative students of all. Someone had just hurt or squelched them along the way, and boy would the tears flow all around the classroom when these students gave their presentations.

    I guess it was "creative therapy."


  4. Great post, Niki! I needed the reminder today to let my creativity out. Thanks for the inspiration!

  5. I love that sense of inspiration. It goes hand in hand with exhilaration and enthusiasm. I don't think anyone would ever finish writing a book without that mental high every once in a while. It's pure joy. Surely when God said He made us in His image, He was speaking of the creative spark He planted within our souls?

    Thanks Niki for a great post!

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  7. what an inspirational post today...i recently discovered your blog...and I'm in love w/ it :)

    karen k

  8. Hey Niki! Super post! I enjoyed reading it, and I'm going to keep it in mind as I do math with third graders today.

    I'm with Deb: that animated fairy is cool. I feel so 20th century...

    Like Patti, I'm inspired and renewed by music. And sleep. That always seems to help.

  9. Nikki,
    Love the post and inspiration right up my alley - the fantasy sort.
    What do I do for inspiration:
    Take a walk
    Watch one of my favorite movies
    Read poetry
    Read books by authors I admire and wish to emulate, like Julie Lessman, Mary Connealy, Deanne Gist...


  10. Nikki,
    Love the post and inspiration right up my alley - the fantasy sort.
    What do I do for inspiration:
    Take a walk
    Watch one of my favorite movies
    Read poetry
    Read books by authors I admire and wish to emulate, like Julie Lessman, Mary Connealy, Deanne Gist...


  11. Niki, what a great post. I didn't know much about Queen Mab, so it was enlightening as well. Things like this are what spark my imagination. New discoveries and research can ignite my imagination.

    The animated fairy is fabulous!

  12. She is a fun fairy, isn't she? I just want to pluck her off the screen and put her on my desk!
    Glad you've all enjoyed this post. It's good to hear other people's methods of restoring that spark... I'd forgotten all about sleep. : )
    For me I think it's pictures, and good books. I love to look at beautiful pictures. Hence the reason I've been futzing around on the internet all day... oops.

  13. Fab post, Niki!

    I recharge in a variety of ways: music, watching a great movie or talking to an uplifting friend. Just today, I realized that I needed to change my attitude toward my writing. The fun was completely gone and it had turned into sheer drudgery. So today, I'm just writing for fun. I'm not thinking about publishers, or agents, or whether it's good enough to sell... I'm just enjoying the process. So far it's made a huge difference. Hope it stays fun!

  14. Niki, I really enjoyed this. Will you cringe if I tell you I'd never heard of Queen Mab? And I thought I read Romeo and Juliet, so I don't know how I missed her. Thanks for sharing this.

  15. Okay, I have to admit I've never read Shakespeare although I know of his works and some of his characters. Queen Mab is not one I've heard about.

    And the only fairy I know is Tinkerbelle and I didn't stop to think she might be a pheasant in the realm of fairyland.

    Wow! What an eye opener. :)

    I've spoken with writers who've bemoaned stifling their creativeness because of church protocol or the old 'what will people think' syndrome. But it really is true that you can't satisfy everyone. It's also true that putting a plaque on the side of the door doesn't guarantee the church walks in Jesus' shoes. So if you really feel the need to write something which may raise hackles, you need to spend time in prayer and find out why you feel this urge. And then if the urge is still there, maybe there's a reason for it.

    Thank you, Niki. I appreciate the info on this tiny well of inspiration.


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