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What Inspires You?

One of the top questions I am always asked is “where do the ideas come from?” Another version of this might be, “What inspires you?” It is a question I’ve found plagues writers. Most of us simply shrug. JK Rowling had the idea for Harry Potter while riding a train. In an interview I saw, she said she was sitting there and just saw him walking down the aisle. It was as simple as that. No fuss, no comment, nothing; just saw him walking there and a multimillion-dollar idea was born.

That is part of the thrill of being a writer. I never know where an idea would strike. The Curse of Atlantis came about because a world history teacher in high school predicted we would discover Atlantis in the next seven years. The story started as the discovery on Earth with a portal to another world. That soon became complicated, and too much like a previous story I had written, so I ditched the whole Earth encounter altogether. The Lord of Nightmares was much more subtle. I had a pet rabbit. We had already called him Bunnicula because his eyes glowed red when I was searching for him one night in the backyard. I was out feeding him, looked up at the moon, and envisioned how creepy it would be if the whole thing turned red. The story I’m currently writing came with just a random thought. What if a family could manipulate fate, but when they do bad things happen? I sat on that thought for about a month before the plot finally unfolded to something interesting.

So far, it has never failed. The moment I am finishing one story, and idea sparks for another. This lack of control on ideas also makes them a little scary. What if they don’t come anymore? What if the ideas run out and I’m left…gasp…normal? I used to worry about this when I was growing up. While I still wonder if the ideas will ever grow stale or stop coming altogether, it is no longer a fear. I rest on faith that this process is a part of me. My mind will always twist the real into something more interesting. What if…?

I can only say two things for certain. Thunderstorms and showers always help accelerate the flow of ideas. The moment dark clouds start to build, I feel a twitch in my stomach. My fingers almost crave to feel the plastic keys of my computer. When the sweet smell of rain mixes with the clap of thunder…look out because I will be searching for a place to sit and write. While this one seems unique to me…although I would love to see if other writers feel the same, another spark comes from showers. Don’t ask me why. I used to not talk about it except with family. The idea sounds completely weird. But then, I was listening to a radio station interview a member of the band The Script. He even talked about ideas coming in the shower. My chiropractor claims it’s the electrical charge of the water hitting our head. I just shrug and say whatever works!

“I live to tell a tale,” that’s what I wrote for my senior quote in high school. Couldn’t be more true and I look forward to the sudden impact of new ideas, wherever they might come from.