The sound of distant drums could barely be heard, but we knew what to listen for.

My friend had heard the sounds while on a walk outside the campground, and clued me in later, once the men at the neighboring trailer turned off their 32” TV for the night and the family across from us finally stopped running their RC jeep between our tents. Once I knew of its existence, I could hear the unmistakable beat of a drum circle. We mused on who was playing and on the where and the why. Returning from the camp restroom I could even hear women’s voices rising in joyful shouts after one long drumming session ended.

I don’t remember ever having tuned into something so quiet that I wouldn’t have heard it unless I’d known to listen.

It was magical.


I noted it for future reference. This would make a great story, this feeling, this moment. Like that article online about the huge blue eye that had been discovered under the sea. Or the dialogue that always seems to come to me when I’m driving 70 mph down the freeway with no means of writing it down.

Where do you find your inspiration?

I used to scoff at people who told me they wanted to write, and then proceeded to ask how I knew what I wanted to write about. My head and heart were overflowing with stories to tell, but my perfectionist tendencies had slowed the tap to a slow drip. So I couldn’t understand those who needed inspiration. Inspiration I had, in spades, but what I needed to do was to actually write!

Over time, I have realized that although sometimes my writing muse is loud, mostly she whispers, or mocks me from behind a plexi-glass wall eight feet thick. It isn’t always possible to be inspired, and it isn’t always possible to feel the magic. Sometimes we are burned out by life, and it is exceedingly difficult to tap back into what inspired us to begin to tell a particular tale in the first place.

To find our way back, I am convinced we need to keep writing. I hear this from most writers, and it is certainly true for me. And when you are putting in all the work, keep listening. You just might find an idea to jot down on the nearest envelope or Post-It note.

The sound of distant drums—very distant drums—was audible to our ears, but only because we were listening for them.