After reading a great novel, or seeing a brilliant film, I am often left with the question of, where did the inspiration for this come from?” I’ve always had the thought of inspiration as something that struck, like lightning but in fact, sometimes inspiration is slow, and closer resembles influence rather than inspiration. Shakespeare said all of the world is a stage. I could not agree with him more.
I am often in awe of where inspiration and influence show up in my writing, sometimes it is from the most mundane or random things. I am always in awe to see where things pop back up. For instance, a few years back I watched a British documentary about one of the grand hotels in London. I found it interesting but didn’t think any more about it after I watched it. Earlier this year, I wrote a romantic novel set in part in a grand, old hotel, the type of hotel that is an institution, and a cultural landmark. It wasn’t until I was deep into writing the work that, I needed to visualize the hotel and the images from the documentary came to mind. I did not set the book in that exact hotel, in fact, the hotel in the book is completely fictitious, but I could see the influence of the hotel in the documentary.
I really enjoy television shows and documentaries that take people out of their comfort zone, to see how they or other’s react. I think this is the writer’s equivalent of gold! I am also in graduate school, furthering my study of communication. There are so many social nuances within a culture that it makes inspiration and influence robust. I think this is why I enjoy the study of communications so much because, in a way, we are writing our own stories, and when one acts or reacts out of the norm, it is interesting. It is how and what we communicate that makes writing so much fun at times. I love to put myself in my character’s shoes and logically look at what their reaction should be.
I have always had an overactive imagination. As a kid, I always thought it was a bad thing. I won’t lie, sometimes it got me in trouble. As an adult I love my overactive imagination, it is my happy place. My childhood was a non-traditional and although it was difficult, at this point in my life I would not trade it. I have come to realize that all of those difficult situations not only made me the person I am today but have given great inspiration for writing.
For instance, the book that I am currently querying, the main character, Rosalie, is trapped in a life where religion dictates her life. A large part of my childhood was spent in church, against my will for the most part, where religion dictated what was done or not done. I grew up in a similar atmosphere to the one Rosalie lives in, where a wife is expected to be a wife and a mother, and that is her main function in life. Luckily for me, I saw past that and rejected that idea. It caused quite a stir when I finally did step away. Please don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that it is wrong to have the goal of being a wife or a mother, just as long as the woman has free will and choice in the situation. My point here is, that I would have never thought that I would’ve written a book about a romance within a particular religion and the implications that has. While the denomination of religion is different from Rosalie’s from the one I grew up in, it translates very well. Inspiration and influence really do come from the most random places sometimes.
When I go through something difficult, I often say to myself to observe the situation and the players involved, it might be useful later for writing. I try to look for the silver lining in all things, so a bad situation can possibly serve a purpose, rather than being just a rotten time. When you live with a writer, nothing is safe. We are observational people and experiences good or bad are recorded. I love to see how random things pop up in my writing. I often wonder when I am reading other’s works and it makes me think of something if that is where their influence came from.
What influences you? Tell me in the comments.