Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Inconvenient Inspiration

By Elizabeth Musser

My husband and I are in the midst of packing up our house in France to move back to the States for ten months. Boxes are everywhere as we stash our stuff in relative safety away from the little hands of the three tiny tots the new renters have.

Before we leave for the States, we will attend our biannual missions’ conference in Germany where we’ll give seminars and meet individually with many of our European workers.

Suffice it to say, I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed by all that there is to do.

As I was preparing a talk on ‘soul care’ for a group of women who serve in closed countries, I looked through my journal for notes on a similar talk I’d give two years ago to a group of women leaders in a Dutch church. I couldn’t find the notes, but what I did find was a journal entry about an idea that had stirred my soul two years ago.

An idea for a new novel.

All of the sudden, I was remembering the excitement I’d had, hearing about a part of history I had never studied before. At the time, I was doing signings for a novel that had just come out in Holland, and I was writing another novel. So I’d simply jotted down some notes in my journal, some tidbits of inspiration, and then completely forgotten about the incident.

Normally, I would have at least put the notes in a ‘new novels idea’ folder, but I didn’t.

And it slipped from my memory.

Until yesterday.

When I was in the midst of doing a hundred other things.

All of the sudden, as I read the journal entry from 2015, I felt that pinching in my soul which happens when I have an idea for a new story.

But I didn’t have time for this! I needed to be preparing seminars and packing boxes.

Talk about Inconvenient Inspiration!

What do we do when we have ideas for our writing, but life is very seriously crowding out time to be inspired?

A few years ago, I listened to a TED talk given by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of the surprise phenomenal bestseller Eat, Pray, Love.

I was fascinated by her claim that in ancient Rome and ancient Greece, people believed that creativity was not inherent to the person, but came from a divine source. Before the Renaissance, writers and other creatives weren’t solely responsible for their successes or failures. There was a divine part to the equation which everyone acknowledged. If this divine inspiration, this Muse, didn’t show up, the writers of old didn’t fall into deep depression. They just kept doing their part.

Then Elizabeth Gilbert gave some humorous examples about what writers did, and do, when the Muse shows up in very inconvenient times. One example was of the poet Ruth Stone who described receiving her poems as a child when she was out working in the fields. When this happened, the poem came like ‘a thunderous train of air’ and the only thing she could do was (in her words) ‘run like hell’ back to the house and find pencil and paper on which to write the poem.

So as I was inconveniently inspired by the Muse (ah-hem, I totally think it is the Holy Spirit), I left my computer, took a fast walk and repeated the scenes that flowed into my mind again and again until I returned home where I typed them out in all but incomprehensible phrases.

And then, I sat back, sighed, smiled, and went to find another box to pack.

Here’s the link to Elizabeth Gilberts’s talk: Listen and enjoy.

I’d love to hear how others handle Inconvenient Inspiration.

About Elizabeth Musser

ELIZABETH MUSSER writes ‘entertainment with a soul’ from her writing chalet—tool shed—outside Lyon, France. Elizabeth’s highly acclaimed, best-selling novel, The Swan House, was named one of Amazon’s Top Christian Books of the Year and one of Georgia’s Top Ten Novels of the Past 100 Years. All of Elizabeth’s novels have been translated into multiple languages. The Long Highway Home has been a bestseller in Europe.

For over twenty-five years, Elizabeth and her husband, Paul, have been involved in missions’ work in Europe with International Teams. The Mussers have two sons, a daughter-in-law and three grandchildren who all live way too far away in America. Find more about Elizabeth’s novels at www.elizabethmusser.com and on Facebook, Twitter, and her blog. See photos from scenes in The Long Highway Home on Pinterest.

About The Long Highway Home

Sometimes going home means leaving everything you have ever known.

When the doctor pronounces ‘incurable cancer’ and gives Bobbie Blake one year to live, she agrees to accompany her niece, Tracie, on a trip back to Austria, back to The Oasis, a ministry center for refugees that Bobbie helped start twenty years earlier. Back to where there are so many memories of love and loss…

Bobbie and Tracie are moved by the plight of the refugees and in particular, the story of the Iranian Hamid, whose young daughter was caught with a New Testament in her possession in Iran, causing Hamid to flee along The Refugee Highway and putting the whole family in danger. Can a network of helpers bring the family to safety in time? And at what cost?

Filled with action, danger, heartache and romance, The Long Highway Home is a hymn to freedom in life’s darkest moments.


  1. What a delightful moment for you, Elizabeth, amongst all the chaos of packing. And then to be reminded of Elizabeth Gilbert's talk.

    Those moments of clarity when the Holy Spirit drops something in our hearts are special, aren't they. I have many such moments when I'm out walking the dog and often charge back home so I can put them to paper.

    If you're looking for some more inspiration on "Soul Care" check out Alicia Britt Chole's work.

    Trust all the packing goes well and your time back in the States is joyful for you both.

    1. Thanks so much, Ian. I've written down the author's name. blessings!

  2. Wow. Great post, Elizabeth, and thank you for sharing the TED link. Brushing up against the Divine, being vessels He can use - yes, please God!

  3. Yes, that is how it has been for me. Plus, it was unwanted in that I really didn't want to write novels. And now you're 'inconveniently' out of action in the midst of all this. However, a broken arm probably won't stop you typing or if it does - time to learn to dictate! And in God's way of doing things, that might help you be even more productive or slow you down to write or hear his voice or ?

    1. thanks, christine! one handed typing for right now, but great idea to dictate! blessings as your launch date approaches, and you can send the word or pdf of novel now if you want.