Paulette Mahurin on Inspiration
Thank you, Ivy Truitt, for inviting me to speak at your blog site. I’m really grateful for this opportunity. When I asked you what you would like me to write about, you wrote back, Maybe what inspired you to write the book, and I gave that some thought. I started to think about what really inspired me, when ostensibly I usually write about Oscar Wilde’s imprisonment and the gross injustice of being incarcerated for doing what one can no more help than the sun rise each day. I replayed countless of interviews and blog post I’ve made since my book, The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap, was released and the same themes, significant as they are, played in my head, filled with passion. But, I didn’t want to keep repeating myself and so I sat with the idea of inspiration to see what else, something new I could come up with and truth be told what inspired me is unchanging: intolerance, injustice, my heart’s yearning for social justice for all. Okay, then what to write about here? Then it hit me, and I’m laughing, because really it seems to defeat the purpose to think of an idea that is inspirational, when for me inspiration comes from a place that doesn’t involved thinking at all. That turned my light bulb on. So, what is it, inspiration—that stirs a stimulation to a high level of feeling or doing? The answer for me is intuition, that inner sense of knowing without rational guidance.
I once wrote that intuition is God speaking to me. This was never truer than when I worked in the second busiest emergency room (ER) in Los Angeles County, with the highest census of child abuse. I’m a Nurse Practitioner, and working in an ER means I operate just like any of the other doctors, independently handling patients, without taking on the serious trauma cases. I saw things I had never experienced before yet somehow knew what needed to be done, that inner sense that said don’t send this kid home, no matter what the on-duty doctor thought. I learned to hone my intuitive skill and not overthink or deny. It served me well and to this day I am grateful beyond description, I never lost a patient in the ER.
While I was writing, The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap, this inner sense kicked in. At first I ignored it, wanting to show off and write about all the research I had done. I spent hours on one subject and didn’t want to reduce it to a sentence. I wanted the recognition for all the hard work I’d put in, to feel proud. The problem was it didn’t serve the story, didn’t forward the action or the character’s dialogue or narrative. It robbed the story of flow, and I struggled with this. I had spend days researching the Donner Party debacle, and wanted to use it in the story to show why people migrated south; avoiding the cold life defeating winters the Donner’s got caught in, resulting in cannibalism—to settle in the Walker Lake area. I included a few pages about this, only to have my editor blast me that the story had switched from that of bigotry and persecution, a chaotic small town’s inhumanity to its fellow citizens, to that of a didactic history lesson. Boy did I learn my lesson. Now what? What the hell do I cut? The flickering intuitive light that I all but smothered, started to glimmer. This time I paid attention to it, and stepped out of the way of the story, parked my not so intelligent ego, and let the story flow. I ended up with a few sentences. As a result of this type of editing the book is only 202 pages, lol!
Once I got in the groove of letting the story write itself, it was easy to feel the real inspiration that was motivating me to write this story; the injustice of Oscar Wilde’s imprisonment, but now it wasn’t reduced to some thought process, but a visceral knowing, an organic sense, of a slight glimmer of what he must have gone through. And, so in searching out my inspiration, I have come full circle to once again be reminded that all he did was become attracted to another man, love the other man, and make love to him. He could no more help that than a leaf can change its color, or a dog not wag when its owner comes home, the attraction of life forces, whether a man for a man, a leaf for carbon dioxide, a dog for a bone, are inexplicable elements of the mystery of life. To blame someone for this is like blaming a flame for burning flesh, the rain for falling, and the miracle of all the senses created from beyond comprehension for simply doing what they do. This, my inspiration, made me write, kept me up through the exhaustion I live with (I have Lyme’s Disease), and motivated me, it still does to put this story to paper and spread the word: in the name of tolerance.
1 comment to Paulette Mahurin on Inspiration
Thank you so much, Ivy, for having me here to do this post. I hope this will inspire others to have a look at my book, The Persecution of Mildred Dunlap, as it forwards a message on tolerance and also, the profits are going to the first and only no-kill animal shelter in Ventura County, CA, where I live. (Santa Paula Animal Rescue Center). I am grateful for the help here and everyone who mentions the book, likes it, purchases it, shares it with someone, all in the name of getting those sad faces off death row and wagging their tails in their forever homes.