A flash of inspiration . . .
Inspiration is, to an artist, the air we breathe. It sustains us, suffusing us with ideas. I’ve talked before about the things that inspire me to write a story . . . a piece of stitching, a paperweight, a length of cloth, a pocket globe. Once in the distant past it was a tiny brass ball I found in my grandfather’s tool shed (which I’ve since lost, but imagine the quidditch snitch and you can see what I mean). Heavens’ knows what Pa’s little brass ball was. Whatever it was, more than anything it was inspiration.
Many years ago, when I still wrote in pen, I decided I might write like Jilly Cooper. The hypocrisy and arrogance of the ‘riche’ set in a coastal village was the inspiration. But Ms Cooper in the past and Ms. Fiona Walker more recently have done it with great hilarity and with far more eclat than I could ever manage, so I left it to them to carry the flag.
I realised something . . . whilst people’s actions inspire characters in my novels, those same actions never inspire a story. Certainly actions and reactions move a plot-line forward but its the inanimate object that inspires me. Take for example the paperweight. The minute I saw it, it was like a key opening a door. As I looked at it, a whole story flashed fast forward in my mind. So fast I could barely keep up. Is that what they mean when they say a flash of inspiration? Because I swear, a whole world opened up before my eyes.
I often wonder if there might be a correlation between that unearthly flash and the blast of clarity that can be achieved at moments of pure meditation. Because the images that rolled before my eyes were as clear as crystal.
It’d be nice to merely dwell on the positive here, but whilst I have inspiration for a fifth book, The Pocket Globe (I have copyrighted the title and the opening para), I haven’t seen anything that has generated a flash for anything further.
However I am not going to panic because there’s a world of museums, antique shops, second-hand stores and galleries to be visited and things to be looked at, held, touched and smelled and one thing I’ve learned is that if you go looking for inspiration it will never come, but if you relax and forget about it, it hits in a flash . . .
Who knows where that might lead?