Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: The Writer's Challenge (NOT the FaithWriters Challenge) (06/10/10)
TITLE: A Light Bulb Moment
By Ruth Clowater
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I head to the kitchen to pour a cup of inspiration. Just one single idea; that's not too much to ask, is it? I just need a place to start. I hear the echoes of those who have encouraged me in the past. “What a wonderful story! Have you ever thought about getting it published? You have a gift for bringing words to life!” I am well aware that it takes more than ability, though. “God, this gift that you have given me, this irresistible compulsion to write, it feels more like a curse!”
I sip slowly, my feet propped on a chair, postponing the journey back to my desk for as long as possible. My eyes drift toward the ceiling. Mrs. Greene, my third-grade teacher, chides, “you won't find any answers up there!” I notice a blackened light bulb hanging from the chandelier. I must remember to buy new bulbs.
Light bulbs. That reminds me of a joke. Surely, you have heard it before. “How many Christians does it take to change a light bulb? Three, but they're really one.” How many engineers, Presbyterians, country and western singers, atheists ... you name it. New life continues to be breathed into this old joke. There are probably ten thousand variations of it!
Ten thousand. Thomas Alva Edison, the genius who invented the light bulb, tried and failed, ten thousand times before he finally got his idea to work. Someone once asked him, “how could you keep at it, even after so many failures?” It must have been a struggling writer who posed the question; someone who, despairing of ever finding inspiration again, vowed never more to dip his quill into the inkwell. The writer, hoping for sympathy, found disappointment, when Edison replied, “if I have found 10,000 ways that something won't work, I haven't failed!”
Good ole Tom. His plain-and-simple one-liners pack a powerful punch of truth. He must have been thinking about his encounters with the light bulb when he declared that “genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.” I am no genius. My craft is words, not inventions with the power to change the world. To draw me back to the keyboard, I just need a fraction of a percent of an idea.
I enjoy the time I spend with Tom. “You know, my dear friend,” he tells me, “inspiration can be found in a pile of junk.” After I retrieved the latest rejection letter from the mailbox, he reminded me, “many of life's failures are experienced by people who didn't know how close they were to success.” Maybe that is me, close to success!
One day, when Tom was explaining why he does what he does, he also spoke to my heart. It is good to have a friend to remind you—because we all lose sight from time to time—of the reasons why we choose the paths we take. Tom could invent just about anything, but he says, “I never perfected an invention that I did not think about in terms of the service it might give others.” Thank you, Tom, I really needed to hear that! Of course, he also succeeds because he is too stubborn to ever admit defeat (but let's keep that little tidbit between you and me).
The genius invents marvelous things. I only write little words, but our motivation comes from the same place. I can't believe that I once had dared to call this gift from God a curse! And look! Thanks to those little pep talks from my buddy Tom, what had been not very long ago, an empty page begging for words, now overflows with them!
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