Melinda Clayton and I share a publisher, Vanilla Heart Publishing. She is an amazing talent: her two novels, Appalachian Justice and Return to Crutcher Mountain, were written while she was pursuing her doctoral degree.
Melinda has an Ed.D. in Special Education Administration, and is a licensed psychotherapist in the states of Florida and Colorado. Her vast experience working in the field of mental health gives her a unique perspective on human behaviors, and she likes to explore this dynamic in her writing. Melinda lives in central Florida with her husband, two children, and various cats.
Here is her take on creative inspiration:
Back in the 1980s, student life at the University of Memphis (then known as Memphis State University) centered on the huge courtyard in the center of campus. What I remember most about the courtyard are the people. Sprawled on steps and benches, sitting in the shade of massive trees, perched on the sides of concrete planters, people chatted, studied, listened to impromptu political speeches and philosophical debates…or did what I did: sat quietly and observed.
“People watching,” an article in the school paper called it, and I remember the feeling of belonging I had when reading the article. As long as I can remember, I’ve enjoyed taking a seat in the back corner and observing the world around me. I’m inspired by people. More accurately, I’m inspired by what motivates people to do the things they do. We’re a fascinating, multifaceted, complicated lot.
The boy I see walking to school every morning, the one who’s always smiling and snapping his fingers to an internal beat. The elderly gentleman pushing a baby stroller, the red-haired twin boys on the run, the middle-aged woman with earphones who enthusiastically aerobicizes her way around the block: these things make me wonder; they spark my imagination and inspire me.
In the 1950s, psychologists Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham came up with the Johari Window as a means of explaining the four basic forms of self.
Picture a window with four frames:
- The first frame stands for what you and I both know about me (public knowledge).
- The second frame stands for what you know about me, that I don’t know about myself (my blind spot).
- The third frame stands for what I’m deliberately keeping hidden from you.
- The fourth frame stands for what neither of us knows about me.
That second frame is what inspires (and fascinates) me the most. We all have a blind spot. It could be something as simple as a verbal or physical tic of which we’re not aware (but everyone else is), or something as complicated as our tendency to unconsciously sabotage relationships with those we love. When we aren’t conscious of our motivations––when we aren’t aware of our blind spot––we can run into trouble.
That’s a dynamic I love to explore in my writing. Carl Jung wrote: When an inner situation is not made conscious, it appears outside as fate. The characters in my novel-in-progress would have kept Jung busy for a very long time. Unconscious motivations, difficult choices, and unresolved conflicts: the human psyche at work. That’s inspiring.
You can find Melinda t http://authormelindaclayton.xanga.com.
NEXT WEEK: Author Debra Brenegan