Writer’s Desk: When Inspiration Talks, Listen

MoviegoerWalker Percy, in The Paris Review, on the first piece of writing he ever had published:

…I was sitting around Saranac Lake getting over a light case of tuberculosis. There was nothing to do but read. I got hold of Susanne Langer’s Philosophy in a New Key in which she focuses on man’s unique symbol-mongering behavior. This was an eye-opener to me, a good physician-scientist brought up in the respectable behaviorist tradition of UNC. and Columbia. I was so excited, I wrote a review and sent it to Thought quarterly. It was accepted! I was paid by twenty-five reprints. That was enough. What was important was seeing my scribble in print!

As an origin story, it’s not the sort of thing that everybody could follow. After all, Percy had studied science and was a doctor before transitioning to being a writer. But it goes to show that inspiration can strike you practically anytime, anywhere. Even if you have tuberculosis. You just have to keep your ears open.

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