Monday, May 18, 2009

The strange paths of inspiration

So, Monday again and I am getting through the weekly chores. Dishes are done and laundry is going, next is the checkbook and then hopefully I'll get a little writing in today as well. I have three short stories minimum that I want to have done by the end of the month, and next week is probably going to be an unproductive writing week as it's our tenth wedding anniversary and my husband has half the week off. Plus I had a job interview last week and hopefully (fingers crossed) I'll have some good news next week along those lines.

I was discussing writing with a friend over drinks last night, and she made a comment to the effect of "see, that's why I couldn't be a writer. I don't have all those ideas and stories in my head."

Inspiration comes from odd places. My mind gets bored easily, so I make up stories. All the time. Most of them are not all that interesting to anyone but me - things like conversations I could have if I ran into a particular person, or how I would explain something to someone who didn't know anything about it. But sometimes that "practice" of "if-then" pays off, and I get an idea that's interesting enough that I might be able to do something with it.

I think part of the trick is being able to open yourself up to the story ideas that are all around you. Ask yourself "what if?" and then just run with it. Or see an interesting location and start making up a history for it. (Or just make a mental note of it and use it later in a story that needs more atmosphere.)

For example, I was driving home late one night from out of state, and I had been following the same person for something like an hour and a half. I found this other car's presence kind of comforting on the lonely dark road, and after awhile was feeling a wholly illusory sense of connection with it, like the other driver was a buddy of mine. And I could see where, if something happened to that car, I might go the extra mile, as it were, for that person because of that illusory feeling. So what if they hit a deer? (Very common in Wisconsin.) And once I started in on the what-ifs, I had the beginnings of a neat story in no time. All from my mind wandering on the highway.

(I don't recommend driving distracted, but I can't seem to help it. Something about being in a moving vehicle gets my story gears going.)

Enough rambling, I have a checkbook to balance. But all you would-be writers out there, just keep your inner ears open. And carry a pencil or pen and paper with you to write ideas down. Just not while driving.

No comments:

Post a Comment