Sunday, March 16, 2008

Sunday Scribblings: Inspiration Smorgasbord

For the first time, I'm giving Sunday Scribblings a whirl. What an opportune time, too--I have my pick of topics. I'm snagging "inspiration" off the list, but also "experiment," as I'm trying something new here.

I've joked about my muse in the past, as if it's a separate, sentient entity. Sort of like the classic Greek muses, only with less class--my muse looks like a gothic Tinkerbell, sitting on top of my bookcase, mocking me and making immature faces when I can't write. Why the bookcase? Well, she's got quite the vantagepoint that way, and where does inspiration to write come from if not from reading what others have written before, to enter into a dialogue of ideas. As to her wardrobe, well, I haven't the oodles of cash or the patience for clothing and makeup to maintain the "gothic" look, but it does fascinate me.

It's just silliness on my part, the personification of my muse. Inspiration comes from odd places. A story I wrote when I was about 13 was triggered by an odd moment. I went to the basement to do something and was fumbling in the dark when I bumped into something. I almost said "excuse me," knowing full well I was alone--or hoping I was, anyway. I envisioned a scene with a character alone in a house, bumping into something, saying "excuse me" as if there were a person there--only to find someone there, which led, naturally, into a kidnapping story. I was proud of it, working on it surreptitiously in school and marveling over the pages of my own words. At the time. I later pitched my 30-page magnum opus in the trash. The main character's name? Rose. Her middle names were also flowers, I'm wanting to say Iris and Lily. Last name? Smith. Oh, hella original, for sure. The kidnapper later turned out to be an older brother she never knew about who'd been taken away into foster care on a false charge years earlier. Oh, but wait, it's better. Somewhere in the sequence of events, he got shot in the arm, see, and she had to help him out and then I think it's in his delirium that he says something that gives a hint to his identity. Even richer still, he didn't know it was his kid sister he was kidnapping. I don't remember who he was working for or why he did it, but I think he was essentially a good guy in a bad situation. I think they all lived happily ever after. High melodrama, triggered by a bump in the evening.

I'd like to think my writing is a little more improved since then, but the inspirations are still largely chance. The (currently stagnated) story about Sept. 11 was inspired by an e-mail conversation with a friend about how the events awakened my socio-political sensibilities.

Or this start to a story, which is based on a real (awkward) experience:
I should have known better, should've known that "So what's your sign say?" is the leftist protest version of the standby bar pickup line. I thought we were just striking up innocent, albeit vaguely radical, discussion of the pitfalls of U.S. foreign policy. But one thing leads to another, and from a discussion of depleted uranium and post-traumatic stress disorder, he asked me out to dinner.
If it plays out the way I want it to, it'll veer off into a philosophical musing on sin and love and religion and the negotiation of identity against a backdrop of leftist agitprop. It, ahem, hasn't gotten far yet. A bit ambitious. Still, it was a chance incident that I was able to file away for later use.

Or this, based on a childhood memory:
"Trip-trap, trip-trap, who's that trip-trapping over my bridge?"

The little girl shivered in delightful terror and clutched her mother's hand tightly, half expecting to see the glimmer of sharp teeth and cruel eyes from beneath the bridge. The wooden bridge beneath them reverbated with her and her mother's stamping as they crossed[?] to get to the playground, and her mother's growl echoed faintly in the nearby parking garage.

They didn't have to cross the bridge; there was a walking path that circled around, but it was something they always did when they walked to the park. It was a ritual. With a snarling voice, mother became monster, and with the tight clutch of small hands, she became mother again, a guardian against any of the monsters that roamed the world, ready to prey on those vulnerable.
I have no clue where it's going. I just thought of it in relation to another story I'd written, a children's story that began with a mother tickling her kid and playing monster in the morning. My creative writing classmates had identified with that scene, so I was trying to capture another childhood scene, this one based on something my mom and I used to do to re-enact my all-time favorite book. I'm kinda thinking horror's the direction for this one. Who knows. I just snagged it when it came.

I'm trying to be open to inspiration, let the stories come as they will. I can't just toss up my hands and say the muse wasn't speaking. She's always speaking. I just don't always listen so well.

Now playing: The New Amsterdams - Worse for the Wear
via FoxyTunes


DJPare said...

Who cares how inspirations happen - just keep writing!


Welcome to Sunday Scribblings. Looks like your gothic muse is doing a great job. I love the sentence over a discussion of depleted uranium and PTSD he asked me out to dinner.

louie said...

That's an interesting post. I've found a website that can be pretty handy for overcoming post traumatic stress. Might want to give it a try at

Heather said...

Glad you could join in! Love the description of your muse. So diffficult, yet loveable. lol Wonderful story beginnings, too. I want to know more... Happy writing!

Thanks for stopping by my fabric smorgasbord. I'm sure I'd be the same way with yarn, had I ever learned to knit or crochet. ;o)