I love to read or listen to interviews with writers. Invariably someone will ask, "Where do you get your ideas? What inspires you?" The writer will almost always say they get their ideas from the "world at large," or "ideas are all around them"—something along those lines. Perhaps they are inspired in the reading of a news story, or overhearing a conversation on the subway, or seeing an interaction between a couple in the mall, etc. I myself am a listener and a people watcher, and I sometimes have an over-active imagination, which can lead me to think some pretty preposterous ideas. Even with alternative stories and possibilities running through my mind, I also often wonder how an author came up with a particular story line. Each of us has a unique perspective, and what occurs to me might not occur to you, and visa-versa.
When asked about inspiration Stephen King said, “You see something, then it clicks with something else, and it will make a story. But you never know when it's going to happen.” I love that. He plucks two totally unrelated ideas out of the air—or the newspaper, or an overheard conversation, etc.—and puts them together. That actually is a great writers block activity—taking two totally unrelated ideas and marrying them to breathe life into a new form.
Today I’m afraid I’m not very inspired—I’m preoccupied with finding out how my soon-to-be 80 year old Mama, who lives 900 miles away in Florida, is doing after her recent surgery. All this week she reports she has steadily improved her post-surgery stamina and she hopes to be discharged home today. With my preoccupation I have not been observing the world outside MaryLou Land, so I know I’ve missed many stories. But, really, is that any different from any other day of distractions? Orson Scott Card said, “Everybody walks past a thousand ideas every day. The good writers are the ones who see five or six of them. Most people don’t see any.”
If I want to strive to always be among the few who see the five or six stories—if not more—then I need to remember to be open to the possibilities every day. Even the distracing days. Especially the distracting days, because that next odd idea might become a NYTBS. Or the quirky new guy at the grocery store could become my next protagonist.
I'm look forward to relaxing after this stressful week and reading a few blogs this evening and over the weekend. I love seeing what has inspired others. And I'm sure I will read several blog posts that will inspire me.
Yesterday I wrote about my attempts at pseudo-Haiku, and as often happens after I dabble in a specific meter, I am currently stuck in 5-7-5 meter-land, so here’s a pseudo-haiku on inspiration:
unconnected thoughtsmarried to form a new life
i am inspired