Honouring and Enumerating Inspiration

As most creative sorts will no doubt be aware, an original mind, even coupled with rock-hard determination, often needs a push to get off the starting block. A better analogy might be a light bulb moment. Or, rather, the flick of a light switch, the globe to which it’s coupled rendering our surrounds, a new concept with quirky themes and an honest voice, bright and clear. That friendly shove of encouragement, that finger flick birthing ingenuity, we know is inspiration. And it can take many forms – music, a good dinner, nostalgic scents, a wind-up watch, or sudden changes in weather.

Those familiar with my writing will probably be aware of many of my crucial muses – most notably, everything Japan and Florence + the Machine. They would likely also be aware of my love of lists. So now, in honour of inspiration and in an effort to remind myself and others that all is not lost when you’ve been months without it - or months without adequate opportunity to act upon it – I present a list, in no particular order, comprising five perhaps more unusual inspiration engines that have sparked ideas in recent-ish times.

1) Folks who stand outside shops and hand out flyers - I got a whole novel out of this, my 2012 NaNoWriMo effort, Pulp Runner.

2) Unexpected encounters with taxidermy – not to mention the ensuing debate with curators of a distinctly dissimilar mindset. Again, a whole novel came of this (and two more shall hopefully follow).

3) Belching in the bathroom – now, perhaps you mightn’t find this particularly inspiring. But would you change your mind if, immediately after you habitually excused yourself, though there is no one to hear but an otherwise empty bathroom, you instinctively imagine the bathroom replying with a polite “That’s quite all right”?

4) Soundtracks from 1994 platformers - you try walking through the streets of Kyoto at dusk with the track from Tubelectric in Jazz Jackrabbit on a loop and not coming up with an urban dystopian concept

5) Roadkill – admittedly, the poor thing had been moved onto the footpath. And it was more the call to the council to remove said poor thing after days and days of passing it, its state becoming increasingly decayed and fly-infested, on the way to the bus stop that has inspired Book 6 in the Treading Twisted Lines series (there is at least as much of this written now as Book 4, which is still sadly suffering).

What’s the oddest thing that’s ever inspired you? Did it lead to something great? Is the idea tucked away safely, waiting for the right moment to explore? In what form has the mighty light-flicking finger of insight aided you?

the idea!

Deign, if you will, to hear my humble mind – Sonnet #2

And now, a brief rant in a not-much-anticipated second attempt at iambic pentameter.

Deign, if you will, to hear my humble mind:

In the depths of those who look to you, sow

only that which brings light, else be enshrined

in culpability – because we know

Work. Craft wonder, limbs wing weightless on air

But mind your rule, for you are naught alone

A signal, a plea passed over; you dare

surge on? Of course: what matters but your throne?

What is broken sums beyond stars and sand

without your negligence, your apathy

Yet showered with praise and glory you stand

while we mend and shed tears of empathy

But we know – we know. And I pray you’ll rue

that it was you, it was you. It. Was. You

Here’s To Another Round of Bombarding Every Literary Agent I Have On My List Right Now

Sat up late last night double-checking cover letters, brief synopses of varying lengths, and preferred formatting of sample chapters before sending submissions of my more user-friendly novel, Missing Exhibit – the young adult/fantasy/psychological drama one as opposed to the not-so-young-adult/fantasy/maybe a little sci fi/psychological drama one, in case anyone was wondering… – into another six UK literary agencies.

Not exactly a relaxing evening, but a hopeful one.

I’m still surprised when I sit down for a spot of nervous editing (this is most of the time right now when I sit down to do anything remotely writing relating – just can’t focus on newer projects at the moment… and that’s getting kind of old) when I find most of it reads pretty well.  I like it, and enjoy reading it over. Almost a year after finishing Missing Exhibit, for the most part, I’m still really happy with it. I like to think that’s a good sign.

So I maintain hope that this novel will eventually stand out from amid its fellow slush. It only has to stand out to one person. Just one. That’ll be more than enough, for now.

I look forward to the day this unknown, but already much revered and appreciated literary agent can help my stories stand out to others, too.

Watercolour (Immersion #3)

Watercolour, track 3 from Pendulum’s Immersion.

Album time, 5:04


We have some difficulty with breathing.

Our bed breathes. It rises and falls as we make it, neatly tucking in sheet corners each morning as required. The fridge in the communal kitchen wheezes, droning with its aged compressor.  Centre cars gulp for air and trains snort. What gets us worst is when steaks and sausages respire, partially defrosted in the sink.

Our bag dangling on the back of a toilet door shouldn’t faze us with its inhales; we’re bobbing up and down bare-arsed where we sit, porcelain lungs beneath us.

Still, it’s a blow.

We can’t even piss in peace anymore.

Sick of this, we close our eyes and stare into mercifully still lids as we finish our business here. Minders will be in calling our name if we’re any longer. With a brisk flush and a slam of the seat, we unhook our bag and leave the stall.

The minders wave us over, and we shuffle in their direction. The gallery is awash with movement. Guides. Patrons with loud questions and secreted cameras. Security guards pacing, batons at their waists.

Statues suck in oxygen as we pass.

Pillars supporting the soaring ceiling spot us and sigh.

Gold-plated frames expand, stretching their canvasses.

The very bones of the gallery compress.

The world breathes.

We feel faint. The wall is no support, and our hand slides from it as we overbalance. The minders’ hands reach for us. We try not to cling.

It’s worse here, worse than it’s ever been. The minders notice.

But there’s more than us to mind. Their eyes soon turn elsewhere, and we’re left to find rhythm in the swell of tiles beneath us and lumber gracelessly behind.

An outburst of unhappiness occupies the minders around the corner, a massive mural their backdrop. We edge forward. The entire wall barely contains this scene of violence, encapsulating our fellows’ miseries.  Broken figures throw themselves into sea as others swarm in pursuit. We blink, squinting in cold light the hunters carry, painted so bright. If any hope for safety in the water, they have only seconds of relief.

We see then – every face is turned away. But perfectly-etched shoulders betray their breath.

Then we notice…

And we frown. We frown, perplexed, and lean in.

We aren’t mistaken. The pursued pant in fright while the frame that edges their nightmare breathes deep.

We glance to portraits and serene landscapes to our left and right.

All breathe with their frames in perfect time.

‘Please… take me out of here…’

We jolt at the choking whisper.

Every figure, arced in dives and half-submerged, goes still. This paint is the only matter in existence that doesn’t breathe.

We lean in closer and stare. Then we smell it – salt.


Near falling into the scene, we raise an unsteady hand. Cool air buffets our skin. And we see – shadows of torsos lump together on our palm, cast by the blinding searchlights beyond.

Hypnotised, we are drawn within the watercolour.

We let ourselves tip.

…But the minders catch us.



That was Watercolour (Immersion #3). If you missed it, here’s Salt In The Wounds (Immersion #2)

Yes, Toil For Flares Far – Haiku #7

Technically, this counts as Haiku #7, what with Haiku #1 plus Five Haikus in Five Minutes. This also counts as shower poetry – I believe I said something here once about good ideas and showers. Not that I’m convinced this is good, but it is, at least, an idea.

And it’s in haiku form.


Yes, toil for flares far

But never let stars rival

Your glistens in reach