Sunday, January 10, 2010

Where Do Ideas and Inspiration Come From?

As I wrote on Twitter the other day, if I had a penny for every time someone asked me where my ideas came from, I’d have $5.76 by now, which is about the average weekly income for most Canadian fiction writers.

In truth, the answer to this question is not always quick or easy to identify. Sure, there’s the standard source: newspapers, TV news, conversations, family issues, day job incidents, overheard conversations, or dreams. But really, ideas come from all sorts of places and often when you least expect it. Take the day I was at a wading pool in a park with my daughter who was then three. I was watching the kids splash around when a baby who couldn’t have been more than fourteen months old, waddled into the pool alone, fell forward and began to struggle. His caregiver (possibly his mom) was busy talking to a friend at the time. I stood, other adults stood and suddenly the caregiver rushed into the pool and rescued him. My heartbeat didn’t slow for quite a while. This is where stories come from, although they needn’t be this dramatic.

One night, many years ago, I was with a boyfriend in downtown Vancouver. We were waiting in line for the movie theatre to open. I was watching traffic and pedestrians until my gaze drifted up and I saw an enormous white owl perched on the corner of a building. He was magnificent against the black sky. All these years later, I haven’t forgotten that moment, so I think it’s still waiting to appear in a story somewhere.

If you’re looking for inspiration, there are countless things to try. For me, much of them involve relaxing the mind: walking in quiet areas, washing dishes in warm, soapy water, or relaxing in a hot tub

So, I’ll toss in my penny and ask, where do you find your inspiration? Or maybe the more important question is, what do you do with it once you’ve found it?

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