“What inspires you?” is a loaded question. And when it comes to certain people, it is a question that can’t be answered in just a few sentences.
Take Terry McMillan, for example, a 66-year-old New York Times bestselling author from Los Angeles, California.
She’s responsible for widely-known novels such as “How Stella Got Her Groove Back,” and has written books like “Disappearing Acts” that were turned into TV movies.
It is safe to say this author has had her share of success.
Signing books at Books-A-Million in Birmingham, AL.
If you were to ask her about what inspires her, you would probably get an answer you wouldn’t expect.
And she wrote about it in Reader’s Digest.
When McMillan was a teenager, back in the 1960s, her family was living in a “raggedy” house in Michigan.
Crammed into a house with four siblings, McMillan slept in an attic with no windows, in the same bed as one of her sisters.
One can imagine how hot that must’ve been in the dead of summer. And McMillan wanted nothing more than to escape from this house.
One day, she accidentally came across something that resembled gold in the attic; the girl thought that this was the family’s ticket to buy a new house! But when she took it downstairs to show it to her mother, she was disappointed to find out that the substance was only insulation.
Even so, this one gesture showed how badly she wanted better things for her family.
Later on, she found something else in the attic: a book.
It was “Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations,” containing random sayings from hundreds of people regarding a wide range of topics.
For starters, McMillan was astonished with the number of synonyms there were for words like “light” and “love,” but soon became immersed in the quotes.
“I couldn’t believe that people had so many compelling thoughts and feelings about things that were already starting to plague me,” she said.
The topics in the book consisted of feelings like “comfortable,” “despair,” and “light.” McMillan was only a teenager, and didn’t have much of a grasp of these concepts.
Then, everything hit her all at once.
“What was the point of living?” she thought at one point.
From questioning why her house didn’t have a front porch to wondering what a kiss felt like, this book had the girl contemplating her own life.
But she found the answers to all of these questions in this book, and discovered solace in knowing that other people weren’t afraid of expressing their fears like she was at the time.
“This book of passages, phrases, and proverbs helped me acknowledge that I didn’t need to feel ashamed or embarrassed,” she said.
The comfort she took in knowing she wasn’t the only one with fear of the unknown was enough for her to always keep this book by her side, even when attending the University of California, where she was received her Bachelor’s degree in journalism.
Her first book, “Mama,” was published in 1987, and the rest is history.
“Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations” helped McMillan expand her view, essentially preparing her for the real world.
This book has molded her into the author she is today.
This is just one story of someone finding her inspiration, and McMillan’s vivid imagination with her respective stories shows this.
Despite finding “fake gold” at first, what she actually stumbled upon turned out to be priceless.
Go here to learn more about McMillan.