“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” – Albert Einstein

You will probably think I’m an acid dripping hippie after you read this lesson, but I could promise you that if you knew me personally, you would find I am quite the opposite. I could count the times on two hands that I’ve ever smoked pot.

Does that make me a hippie?

I guess today’s youth will have to decide that.

Any who…. inspiration is probably the single most important part of writing a novel. There has to be a reason why you’re pursuing a career in the arts, and you won’t find the answer by doing a bunch of drugs in the middle of a desert. If you think you will, you’ve watched one too many movies. Although, not everyone can magically create Alice in Wonderland from their own natural creativity.

Sit back and think for a minute. What is it that you’re trying to express? What is it that you want to reveal to the world? Why are you reading this in the first place?

My inspiration was coupled along with a miracle. When I made this life altering decision to become a writer, and I decided to write my first novel, I was never at a worse point in my entire life mentally. It was right there and then that I asked God for a sign that I was going to be ok. I was worried I was going to pour years of my life into something that was fruitless.

Due to the pressure I put on my own shoulders, fear of rejection, lack of confidence, and likely knowing I would not receive the type of encouragement I wanted, I turned to God. I asked God for a sign that my career as a writer will be fruitful. In a world that’s filled with unknown outcomes, I was asking for one small sign to have faith, and God gave me more than that. It was from this day on that I opened my eyes to see God was there the entire time, I just refused to believe it.

My novel came to life in more ways than one. I received sign after sign, whether it be a song on the radio, a bird singing in the trees, or stumbling across something in a store. The signs were relentless until I was forced to notice them, making me realize the universe wanted me to believe in myself, and the signs didn’t stop until I did. When the universe finally calmed down and stopped throwing rocks at my brain, was when I finished my novel and sporadically booked a trip to Italy. On a broke college student’s budget, I printed a copy of my typo-riddled book through some two-bit website and got on a plain to Italy to see places I described in my book.

What’s the point of all this? You may think it’s dumb, but I believed that the more I tried to bring my story to life, the more I would will its publication over the world…. or at least in the United States.

During this time period, my family thought I was crazy, my friends thought I was acting as if I was guarding a block of gold, and God must have been smiling down on me softly chuckling.

I brought my manuscript to the exact places I described in Italy, and pretty much everywhere else. Trust me when I say I was afraid of failing the entire time and having people say that I belonged in Arkham Asylum for seeing things that weren’t there. I had a few set people who believed that I wasn’t crazy and that was all that I needed. For me, it served as the tiniest shred of proof that this was going to work out.

Sure enough, God continued with his signs in Italy, continually blessing me and assuring me to continue on with my mission.

Now, I’m not advocating for you to ask your God (or whatever else you believe in) for a sign and expect to get it, but instead I’m asking you to take off a blindfold. For once, look at the world through the eyes of someone who isn’t you. Observe the world around you closely, and you will see the signs that I’m talking about.

Still not buying it? Yeah, I wasn’t listening to myself either. At that point, I was still convinced that I had lost a marble somewhere or my mother had dropped me on my head. Fun fact, my mom did once accidently close a trunk on my head, but I still think that’s not the reason why I think this way. When I officially realized I wasn’t a total nutcase was when I read a book by an actual hippie named Paulo Coelho.

The Alchemist is one of my all-time favorite reads and helped me prove that I wasn’t crazy. Here’s a man who had found the signs of the universe in a very similar fashion to me, believing they came from God as well. After reading this book, which was probably a sign of its own, I knew I was on the correct path to authorhood.

Ask yourself, what are your inspirations? What are any signs that you have been ignoring? Have you opened your eyes yet? Inspiration for art could literally come from anywhere. It could be anything from love, anger, the struggle to have faith, or the desire for change.

Inspiration could also come from wanting to help people, like when I realized I wanted to help other aspiring authors to have a modern-day, no holds barred, guide on self-publishing.

Find your inspiration, and everything else will fall into place.

Here are some personal favorite reads and films of mine that inspired me to pursue my dreams.

• The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho
• The Shack – William Paul Young
• Lady Chatterley’s Lover
• The Great Gatsby
• The Catcher in the Rye

• Rocky
• The Godfather
• Forest Gump
• One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest