I believe there are defining moments in our lives as writers and illustrators. There are those moments that change the trajectory of our lives forever after. In fact, I'm pretty sure I experienced one of those moments this past weekend when I attended the Chemers Gallery's annual Children's Book Illustrator's Art Show and Book Signing in Tustin.

I expected to meet fabulously talented artists and see their work up close. I expected one of my favorite illustrators, E. B. Lewis, to be there and I expected to buy his latest picture book, Each Kindness, with text by Jacqueline Woodson. What I didn't expect was to be inspired beyond words.

Sure, it was pretty cool when he encouraged my 14 year old son, who is also an artist, to never stray from traditional media and to always remember that "less is more." And, yah, it was a memorable moment when he signed my daughter's new book for her, telling her to "share the kindness."  But something happened next that I truely didn't see coming. 

In a packed out tent in the back parking lot, each illustrator took 15 or 20 minutes to talk to the guests. Mr. Lewis spoke to us last and his talk was titled Mastering Visual Language. I expected a few tips and some insight to how this brilliant artist worked. But, let me tell you, I was mesmerized when Mr. Lewis began to recite the entire text of my all time favorite picture book, The Other Side (also by Jacqueline Woodson), as an example of text that inspired him to illustrate. In fact, I sat in speechless awe, listening. What a moment!

I realized in that moment that I needed to do what I was meant to do as a poet without excuse, apology, or apprehension. Because that's who I am. That's what I am. A poet. And poets need to put words on paper, like we need put air into our lungs. I can't put my finger on exactly why that moment brought me to such an emotional crescendo about my writing. But I do know that life is filled with moments that surprise us. Moments that inspire us. Moments that change the trajectory of our lives. And I'm pretty sure that was one of them for me.

Have you ever had a moment like that where inspiration struck you like a bolt of lightening? Tell me about it. And tell me, what author or illustrator has inspired you?