Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Struck by lightning?

What's it like for you? For me it's like being struck by lightning. One second nothing, then bam! The idea is there. Usually it's a scene that rolls across the screen in the back room of my head. It's never the beginning, well once it was, but that's it. Then more scenes start following, never in order, come on, that would make my life too simple and we can't have that. So it's my job to write down the scenes and then patch them together like a jigsaw puzzle. Good thing I like jigsaw puzzles.
I'm just back from my trip to Bangkok and guess what? Yep. There was lightning in Bangkok. I was standing in our hotel room looking out the dirty windows at the even dirtier streets below and the song 'One Night In Bangkok' started playing in my head. Damn thing is still there, but that's okay because it kind of fits with the lightning. Anyway, I'm busy singing in my head because no one wants to hear me actually sing, and this guy suddenly starts talking. He's telling someone, can't see them yet, that there's probably no way to locate a missing brother. With everything that goes on in the back streets you'll never know what happened to him.
Then she appears, standing toe to toe with this guy and says she doesn't care who she had to go through she'll find her brother, dead or alive! Okay, that's interesting because I'd been thinking about how sleazy Bangkok feels, it's not just dirty it's filthy. I know it has a reputation and maybe that played into it too but that was all I had.
Then I went shopping with my friend who lives there and we were getting lunch when this guy starts chatting us up. Okay, so we're not that old but hey, we're old! Plus we've both got sizable rings on our fingers but this guys still chatting us up and that's when the second lightning strike occurred. I'm not going into details because I'm still playing with the idea and it may change shape before it's finished, oh who am I kidding, it will change shape. It always does.
So back to inspiration, it's where you find it. I'm known for such lightning strikes in the shower, which probably isn't wise with all that water but hey, you go with it. Besides there's not much choice. It can be while you doing the most mundane activity like the washing or like me while you're visiting an exotic local, it doesn't really matter. What matters is that you take advantage of it, whether using it in a new idea or fitting it into your existing wip, every little thing counts.
The best advice I can give is to write it down. I have about 6 little note books filled with little bits and pieces that have struck me at one time or another. I've used a lot of them. I'll use the rest at some point and I'm sure I'll continue to add to the books. Don't fall into the trap of thinking I'll jot it down later. Not gonna work. You'll forget. If anyone looked at my notebooks they'd swear they were written in another language, and they wouldn't be far wrong because it's my language. I have my own short hand that means I don't need to write down every word, thank god!
There are so many ways to be inspired. Music, movies, other books, even just out shopping. Next time you're out and about look at the people around you. Make up a story about them. What sort of life does the woman in the short skirt and high heels live? Is she a hooker? Maybe she's a lawyer? And what about the man over there? The one dressed in dirty jeans and holey t-shirt? Does he work construction? Maybe he's a mechanic? Or maybe he's a millionaire who hates the trappings of his wealth? See where I'm going with this?
If you have the time it's a fun exercise to think up stories for people you see. Next time you're in the line at the supermarket check out the people in front of you or even the check out chick (how sexist did that sound?), you'll be pleasantly surprised at what your mind will come up with.
So now that I've wasted your time, because you just had to read my insightful witty post, get off your butt, grab a pen and note book and head down to the local shopping center and see what you can get out of it. It actually does do more than take your money. And if you're lucky it'll help you make money.
Go forth, be inspired!
Oh, and come back and tell me how you went.
'See' ya!
Rachel C


Sandie Hudson said...

Rachel a very insightful post. But I'm holding off on the 'go forth, be inspired' thing at the moment. If I have any more people living in my head I'm going to have a population explosion. I have some new friends living in the mad house, in my head city. Well they really are old friends. You know the ones I through away all those years ago. YES 'Their Baacckkk' and very busy.

On top of that I took a friend of mine shopping the other day. This friend gave my son a dog about twelve year ago. Cute dog, great personality. Dan, (my son) called him Bear. Anyway my next door neighbour has a thing for him (the dog, not my son. She just loves animals, and loovvees Bear.) So we're talking about Bear and how cute he is, then she turns around and tells me I should write a story about Bear turning into a man (her words "He'd be the sexist guy on earth") and he could have a torrid affair with the next door neighbour (namely her). I DO NOT write fantasy romance. DO NOT want to write fantasy romance. Yeah right tell that to the sexy dog/man that has now taken up residence in my head city as well.

Jezzzz, enough already. Is there a switch somewhere I can use to turn the volume down or just dim the pictures a little?

See, so another source of inspiration, talk to family, friends or workmates. You just never know where the next lightning bolt maybe. I'm like Rachel, I carry a pad and pencil with me all the time now. It's a must! You can't afford to let any little piece of inspiration slip by, because you may never get it back again.

Okay finished rambling, going back to my other friends. Thank you Rachel for a very interesting post. ;-)

Chat ya later.


Diane said...

I agree. You can find inspiration anywhere...if you just open your eyes and look around. Or if you just open your ears and start eavesdropping.

I used to live above a butcher shop in the inner west of Sydney. Across the road from our place was a 'park bench' and my writing desk looked straight out the window at the bench. Sometimes I would write about the people who would sit there.

One night, I was woken from my sleep about 2am by a couple who'd been on a date and were arguing as they returned to their car, parked just down the road from my house. I could actually see them (and hear a lot of their arguing) through my window which started almost at floor level. To write their story, I didn't even have to get out of bed. I just wrote down the dialogue I could hear, the actions I could see and made up the rest.

Other times, I have written pieces about characters I've had the pleasure (or not) of sharing public transport with.

The world is full of stories. Let's write them.

Diane said...

Sandie, to cure you ideas about the Bear/dog/man, watch the SBS series Wilfrid. The dog is a beer-guzzling dope smoking mutt who gives his owner's boyfriend a really hard time!

Sandie Hudson said...

LOL, Diane, I couldn't do that to my Bear. For one thing he's a pure bred blue cattle dog.

Sussan Marz said...

Great post Rachel. I keep notebooks of ideas. I find ideas come easily. Usually it's a simple 'what if?', sometimes it's a scene. The hard part for me is deciding what to do with them.

Orson Scott Card (speculative fiction writer) says that he often has ideas that sit for years. He starts on a book when he has a second or third idea to go with the first one. Anyone else do this?

Angie said...

Hey Rachel,

Interesting post. I also keep notebooks of ideas - much more than I could ever use really. But I'm also very strict on writing all my ideas down as, in the past, when I've told myself I'll remember the idea - guess what? Yep, I've forgotten it.

I get lots of inspiration and ideas in the shower! Someone else mentioned using those waterproof crayons for kids, and jotting down the idea on the shower tiles. Somehow I don't think hubby would appreciate seeing my scribbles on the shower tiles. LOL.

Sussan, I agree with what Orson Scott Card does. Often, some of my ideas go nowhere because they're not enough for a premise for a novel. I need another idea or two. That's why a lot of my ideas are languishing in note books.

Angie :)