In my article about my creative writing process, I was concerned to demystify the weight of inspiration in the creation of stories and I compared it to a day that is both rainy and sunny; just like today, a Sunday one.
I also take advantage of this beautiful comparison to tell you about inspiration and what it represents for me: it is like a light that illuminates our path, in the most confusing or obscure moments, and that lets us see all the stones on the pavement, not letting us stumble easily, which would happen if there was no such light. We must guard it carefullyand love it above all, because it is through it that we will continue to illuminate other parts of the path when it does not come naturally.
This description seems too abstract and poetic, but for me, there is no better way to describe inspiration. Although I don’t give it the weight that I make my whole creative process depend on, it is certainly important, and sometimes it gives us an illumination that lasts for a long time, if we know how to make good use of it.
What is the source of my inspiration
During the last ten years, I have been travelling a lot, especially around Portugal. Over time, I’ve realised that all the places and regions I’ve visited have been a very important source of inspiration for my stories. But not only that.
The more I travel, the better I know people, sespecially, as one lives in this country (I can also make an analogy, to other places in the world): for example, I was impressed by the hard life that the inhabitants of a schist village in the district of Castelo Branco led at the beginning of the century. XX. In the absence of the most basic living conditions, they shared the same spaces with the animals, men, women and children; and their clothes (produced with harder fabrics, than those that exist today), were washed in the cold water of the stream, on winter days, until their hands bled. Then there was hunger. And hunger is what brings back the most bitter memories.
It is possible to feel the hardship of these lives and see the tears of those who tell these stories of sacrifice, in a country that still had many shortages, where the lack of certain products could only be made up for by smuggling with Spain. Travelling means this: listening to the stories of others and letting ourselves be inspired by them.
This is just one case that marked me, among so many years of travelling, in a pre-Pandemic time, when there were still no restrictions in the way we approached people. I saw people’s tears as they told their life stories, or those of their parents, or grandparents, and the difficulty of others, to stay afloat, in precarious regions, where there is a lack of employment. The first photo is of the schist village Martim Branco.
I then draw inspiration from the creative sources of human imagination, those that I also find on my travels, such as, for example, the case of churches transformed into book fairs, as shown in the second photograph (in Óbidos, at FOLIO). These are cases of innovation in the way books are displayed and they make me wonder: How has it never really been thought of to sell books in a church?
As we well know, in previous centuries, these spaces were used by people to socialize. Nowadays, the sacramental nature of the church has taken precedence over its social aspect. And speaking of churches, what about the third picture, where the imposing building was built in a small village in Portugal (Castelode Vide church)? For me, the size of this church is a good demonstration of the power of people’s faith. Curiously, the town itself has a statue erected in the name of King Pedro V, in gratitude for the monarch’s visit to the town on 7th October 1861: a one-day visit only, which left a population – used to forgetfulness – grateful for the gesture.
It is these journeys and experiences, which bring me inspiration. I would say that knowing the world beyond the written pages, is the best way to know Man.