I’ve written about inspiration in the past, including a random side road off the A30. For fun I thought I’d highlight a couple stories that were inspired in very different ways. I don’t think there’s a more common question for creative people of all walks than the classic “Where do you get your ideas?” Most of the time there’s no good answer–they just come. Sometimes there’s something specific that triggers the story.
Like driving down the A30 (yes, two very different stories were inspired while driving down the same stretch of road) and seeing police lights in my rearview mirror. This is much less common in Cornwall than just about anywhere in America, so it really made me wonder where they were heading. Of course, then I wondered what would happen if they were trying to stop me, particularly since I had done nothing wrong. Out came Bad Cop.
Another Cornwall-inspired story was set in the big house that overlooked the village of St. Mawgan. In the story, the interior of the house is nearly identical to the one I lived in. It was inspired by a storm that caused the doorbell to freak out in the middle of the night. Being a big tough guy (ha!), I went outside looking for trouble with my vicious attack Cocker Spaniel.
A few days later, I wrote the first draft of what would eventually become Through the Window.
One of the strangest inspirations came from a piece of art that I saw…somehow on the internet. I saw somehow because for the life of me I can’t remember what I could have been searching for that this image would come up, but I was so taken with it that I wrote the yet-unpublished Autumn Path.
That was not the first time I was inspired by a visual. I like to take pictures (not that I’m great at it, but it’s fun) and one day I took this picture and thought: What if something was in there? Out came the recently renamed novella Camp Hollybrook, which has recently returned from beta and is bearing the brunt of my red pen.
And of course, sometimes the inspiration is a bit more obscure. Like when I checked into a hotel and was surprised to find that there was actually enough room under the bed for a person to fit. Aren’t they usually blocked off? Maybe I just don’t pay enough attention?, Anyway, I thought: I wonder what kinds of things could happen in here while someone was hiding under that bed?
and the clincher: Why would they be hiding?
Stripped was written completely by the seat of my pants. I didn’t know who Paula was, what she was doing hiding under the bed, or that she would eventually wind up “working” in a strip club because of it. I only had an idea, a spark, and I started writing.
What’s the point of all this? Just to have a little fun and let you in on some of the seemingly mundane things that can inspire something completely different. It doesn’t even have to be about writing – inspiration comes in all shapes and sizes.
From the stereotypical sunset inspiring a painting to the noises of a construction site inspiring the beat of a song, anything can be turned into something more. We don’t always know where they come from, but if we’re lucky we recognize them for what they are. They don’t have to be spectacular, they just need to inspire. That’s when the muse takes over; that’s when things turn awesome.