Saturday, November 22, 2008

Think, think, think...

Inspiration for me is a funny little thing. Sometimes you're so desperate for an idea, but no matter how hard you try, no matter how many books you read, movies you watch, conversations you overhear...nothing happens. It just seems as though nothing wants to click. Nothing wants to seed itself in your brain and take root. There are also times when an amazing story just seems to fall into your lap, and yet despite its apparent brilliance you just can't seem to cultivate it. You twist it and turn it around in your mind for days, but for whatever the reason (maybe it's just not your story to tell) nothing comes from it.

My favorite time is when inspiration hits. It comes in the oddest places and at the most peculiar times. It can come in the middle of the night from a dream, or from the back of a milk carton on the breakfast table. But when it comes and in whatever form it takes, it's the most amazing feeling. It almost begins to bubble and burst forth in your brain, and no matter how hard you try to put it out of your head it just keeps creeping in. In a matter of hours you have plot, subplot, characters, character vices, everything you need to make a good book. That's the easy part. The story in your head is so easy to tell. It's right there on the tip of your tongue, but getting it onto paper is quite another thing.

My inspiration usually comes at quiet times in my life, when I'm least expecting it. I'll be watching a show and suddenly something that flashes on the screen will leap into my head and begin to evolve. It can be as mundane and odd as the red dress on a woman in a tampax commercial. I don't question Lady Inspiration, I just go with it. It's the most exhilarating part of writing for me. It's almost like falling in love. You feel elated and joyful. It really is an intoxicating feeling.

I wish I had a recipe for inspiration. The ability to know what needs to be added here and what pinch of this needs to be thrown in there, just to create that "I've got a great idea" moment. I think it really just comes from being open and allowing yourself to be vulnerable to a wide variety of emotions and experiences. You can't look for inspiration or formulate it, you just have to let it find you.


Lori said...

"it really just comes from being open and allowing yourself to be vulnerable to a wide variety of emotions and experiences." I think you go directly to the essence of it. This openness, is what makes a writer/artist, I believe. It's what makes us need to create something, to express what we feel, when we feel too much.

Carolyn McTighe said...

Well put and I couldn't agree more.