It's Monday - best to just dive in.
Inspiration, as I always say, or at least have started to say out loud, just like lots and lots of other people - who are quite right, I might add - is all around us. What's interesting me right now is the gray area between the people who see that, the people who don't, and the people who don't, but when you point it out, they get it. Confused?
I was following a discussion this week where someone asked for some good, creative ideas quickly because he had a paper due on Monday (today, actually). I thought it must be a joke - how could you seriously be taking a writing class, consider yourself that much of a writer, and not be able to come up with any sort of an idea that could be crafted into a project that was short enough it could be completed in less than a week? These sorts of ideas are everywhere around us. I'm writing in a train station at this very moment and a young family is discussing the pros and cons of which museum to visit (while I struggle with the proper spelling of museum) but with a twist, it seems that Mom knows someone who works at one of them. That's a story that could go in a thousand directions. I was just distracted by two people entering at the same time, a man in uniform and another in shorts and t-shirt. They know each other, but why? And how long? Did one of them donate a kidney to the other?
I see these stories and ask these questions all of the time. Most of the people I know that don't write, don't. But then there's this anomaly, "Give me an idea so I can tell a story about it." Can you be a story teller without ideas? Please, no snipes at Hollywood, this is a serious question. Sure, you can be a re-teller of stories. You can be an actor and breathe great life into Rumpelstiltskin, a wizard with a flashlight that makes any campfire tale terrifying, or gifted with a memory that lets you repeat, nearly word for word, the great works of William Shakespeare or Beverly Cleary. But without being able to see and capture, in the moment, that part of the world that is the story, and incorporate it into the story, do you really have a voice? Are you bringing anything new? I'm inclined to think it's nothing more than a string of clichés. You've probably noticed this, in your reading, with a book that you describe as "being very well written, but it just doesn't, I don't know..."
|You HAVE to see this movie.|
I'm not saying everyone should always be able to just sit down and pop out a story, or that every idea is great. However, I do believe that the inspiration for ideas for stories, the inspiration for great ideas for wonderful stories, is everywhere. This past weekend I was on a path that I have walked and jogged and biked a hundred times. It's lovely. Nice setting. Big difference this time was the giant copperhead. Yes, venomous snake. I totally sympathized with Pumbaa. Inspiration - it's not a story, it's a setting but the story comes from asking, "What happen/ed here?"
I'll leave you with the power of a visual image, and the dynamics of storytelling. I'm on the train now (time flies while you are writing) and the last time I was in this seat, I looked out to see a bald eagle flying alongside me. The river is very wide here, man does not intrude between the tracks and the shore. The raptor flew along with me for quite a distance until the rails pulled me inland. He was going somewhere. Where? Why? Who else was watching him? Who couldn't watch him any longer? That's a story, a scene, a catalyst.
If you have chosen to be a writer and can't decide what to write about, or can't find the variety you need to make your characters unique, or or OR... Unplug your ear buds, stop playing Bejeweled on your iPhone, and look around you.
It's Monday. Be inspired.