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?