Where Do Ideas Come From, Anyway?

Since I only have today, tomorrow, and Thursday to outline for NaNo (heading to Texas for an epic kick-off on Friday, so can’t outline then!), I figured it was a perfect time to procrastinate and write a new post instead. 🙂

I’m sitting here with my window open, sipping black currant tea (which is hands down the greatest invention since sliced bread; I’m thinking it’s the nectar of the gods), and pondering the mysteries of the universe. Or something.

At any rate, I thought I’d take this moment to talk about inspiration.

Inspiration is weird. Ideas can come from absolutely anywhere, which is why having a notebook and pen glued to one’s self at all times is imperitave. I get inspired by all kinds of things, normal stuff like books and movies and music and paintings, and weird stuff like bathroom floors and the way the sky looks and patterns on plates.

The Whale and the Tree, for example, was inspired by a whole jumble of random things: a single frame from The Sisterhood of Traveling Pants movie that for some reason made me think of mermaids, the atmosphere and mood of Keane’s then-newly-released-album Under the Iron Sea, a serving plate emblazoned with an esoteric shape that looked (to me) like a yellow whale, the idea of using myths in the novel ala Megan Whalen Turner’s (completely fabulous) The Thief

The main idea for The Fire in the Glass was sparked, I must admit, by watching Star Wars episode three (the one where I-can’t-act teenage Darth Vader turns into I’m-just-a-torso-in-a-scary-suit actual Darth Vader). It was that fiery planet at the end that did it. I started wondering if people could actually live on a world seething with lava, and why they would be there in the first place, and how they would escape… Everything spun out of control from there.

Last year’s novel, The Silver Crane, was inspired by a random conversation about cupbearers. I started wondering about cupbearers, and what it would be like to be one, and if they chose their job or if it was chosen for them, and…

This year’s novel was born when a friend told me that one of my characters from Fire in the Glass ought to have her own adventures. As it turns out, she’s not the main character, but she’s gonna be in it a lot, and I decided to give her a Pegasus, because Pegasuses (Pegasi?) are undeniably cool.

So there you have it, a strange and perilous glimpse at the inner workings of my mind.

What inspires you?

4 thoughts on “Where Do Ideas Come From, Anyway?

  1. It is always fascinating to hear where other people get their inspiration. I especially like hearing about your sources. They are just so random, but it shows how imaginative you are. You can take one little thing and run with it and make it into an epic masterpiece. Amazing! I love the “single frame from Sisterhood” made you think of mermaids. Now that is awesome. Haha!

    My inspiration comes a lot from books and movies, especially movies. Speaking strictly of stories, I usually think up one as a response to something; a response to society, culture, or common ideas and concepts. Such as Mourir A Lamore, that french story was a response to the ideas of what makes a good love story (i.e. Romeo and Juliet just to name one). Hopefully I will be able to get my stories to come to life one of these days.

  2. Great post. I found it amusing. Good luck with Nanowrimo.

    You asked where I get my inspiration from. Well, I told the story about the sources of inspiration for my first novella “The Enemy and How I Helped to Fight it” on a blog post that I wrote about 3 or 4 years back. Here's the direct link to “the Enemy” story as it appears on my homepage, as both the Hebrew original and a translation I prepared to English.

    Regarding the One with the
    , it's a funny thing. I originally got the idea for the
    skeleton of the story when I went out to jog, slightly before and while I
    jogged. I think I drew a lot of inspiration for combining “The Fountainhead”
    and the “Friends” T.V. show from the web parody
    Hitchhiker's Guide to Star Trek – The Next Generation”
    which I had read
    much earlier. After I was settled on parodying The Fountainhead using a Friends
    episode, the story and its elements more or less flowed. I can recall some
    other inspirations, like when I've seen in several movies that when people got
    stranded on deserted islands and wrote “HELP!” on the shore, I thought to
    myself why they didn't also write
    S.O.S. and inscriptions in
    other languages, which became part of the screenplay.

    My screenplay
    was based on a movie which I hallucinated to have been
    filmed at a time during a long period of
    Mania (very unpleasant,
    I know), when my brain was working extra hours on various delusions. I did not
    picture the entire movie as is, only a few scenes, and some scenes were added
    later from other inspirations. “We, the Living Dead” is also based on my delusions from that time, but it took me several years to figure out a way to write them while being mostly faithful to the Star Trek frenchise on which it was based.

    I suppose I can go on, but I'd rather not.

    Lately I realised that I have a little problem with inspiration when it comes to writing my stories and screenplays. Often I leave gaping holes in the story or screenplay and write some other text towards the end, or leave it alone for weeks or even months at a time, and then write down some other text. Sometimes, I write filler text for the stories that just continue the text from a place I went up to, and these fillers are written on the fly without an inspiration proper, but are still often amusing or at least interesting.

    On the other hand, I almost never lack inspirations for my essays and articles (which are sometimes blog posts) and instead sometimes lack the patience or time to work on them and actually write them. (In a 99% perspiration sort of thing).

    So thanks again for providing the inspiration for me to write this blog comment. I might post it on my non-tech blog.

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