Writing Inspiration? Inspired Writing? by J Vincent

What prompts a writer to put words on paper?  The inspiration for these particular words is a deadline.  This blog needs to be posted while we babysit our grandchildren.  Since there is no internet access at their house I need to schedule this before we leave Sunday morning. A prosaic reason, but many writers will tell you deadlines can be quite effective.  The list of what inspires writers is endless but narrowed down to one writer--me--it is much smaller.  I’ve found many things can trigger a story, or a scene, or a character. 

The big picture--what inspires a story--and the much smaller--what inspires a scene or character--can be very similar.  When I was babysitting my younger brothers and sister years ago I used to make up stories prompted by cloud formations.  I still love to watch clouds and pick out shapes--cuddly bears, thundering herds, a horse head with flowing mane.  On hot summer nights when we got to sleep outside I would use the stars for my inspiration only later learning that the constellations already had their own tales to tell.

Maps.  As I grew older and read the Reader’s Digest avidly the maps with the stories prompted adventures.  I find that is still true today.  When I look at a map of the 18th century Great North Road in England stories of highwaymen, run-away lovers and ordinary travelers leap at me.  I have studied maps of troop movements in Portugal and Spain during the Peninsular War (The French and Wellington 1808-1814) and see tales of horror, bravery, tedium, romance, and so much more.  Maps inspire stories large and small for me.

Houses are much the same as maps.  When we travel and we pass by a tumbled down home or one the worse for time and wear I conjure up its history.  The excitement of those who planned and built it.  The day to day life in it.  Succeeding generations or different families?  What happened that led to its deterioration?  What events in the lives of those who lived there, internal and external, let to its abandonment?  Yes, stories abound in houses or castles and manors, hovels and estates or photos of such.

Photos of people work much the same way for me.  I always seek out photos to flesh out characters when I start a new project.  If I can match what I have in my mind’s eye for the character with what I see in a photo it helps flesh out the person they are.

Scenery also provides inspiration.  There are seventy miles of nothing but scenery between La Junta and Walsenburg CO on Highway 10.  Some of it is pretty desolate, but there is a stretch that is filled with seemingly impromptu promontories.  Sharply jutting crags and steep sloped hills of various sizes.  They make me think of Roman-Britain hill forts and of ancient burial mounds.  Removed from their present time and space they are the perfect setting for Bellum Drancontis --The War of the Dragon which I wrote long ago and have never polished enough for publication.  Druids, Bretons, and 5th Century Romans battle it out as we cruise past Colorado scenery.
Last mentioned, certainly not last on my list, would be music.  Put on the right piece of music and I can be in Versailles n the Hall of Mirrors watching Marie Antoinette flirt with French courtiers or perhaps its a mad crush at the opening ball of the London Season of 1810, or in a candle-lit bedroom in any time or place.  Music inspires intensity of emotion.  You know that from watching any tv series or movie.  Its as if emotions were the strings of a harp and only need plucked to fill the page with words.

These are some of the things that fill my mind with a kaleidoscope of images, action, emotion--stories.  I wish you all that the Rockwell Thanksgiving painting inspires. What do you find inspires you the most?


Reese Mobley said...
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Reese Mobley said...

What a great post. As writer's we have the world at our feet. All we have to do is be open to explore what our senses take in.