I love writing. I love the swing and sway of words as they tangle with human emotions.
-James A. Michener
I hear that the single most often asked question a writer gets is: ' where do you get your ideas?' As if we could say , oh there is this great little secret shop on the corner of Main and 1st Street. Oh if only it were that easy.
But inspiration comes to each individual in it's own way. I've heard authors say that merely hearing a name, or a name of a town, can inspire them........seeing a couple in the park, a fragment of a song....almost anything can SPARK the initial thought for a story. Now........filling it out is another thing. Therein lies the work.
For me........inspiration lives in my bathtub.Seriously. It's like all creativity resides there in its dehydrated form and I just need to add water.Once I sink up to my chin in the steamy hot water, the bubbles work their magic and stories float to the surface for me to capture.
In the case of 'Back to Austen' the entire story from start to finish was waiting in my bathtub. And I just had to transcribe the images I was seeing dance before my eyes, almost as if I was at a drive in movie.
The second novel ( my current work in progress) came to me the same way. But I do know that this is a bit of an anomaly. Most people start with some small nugget of an idea and then let it simmer and brew until a story starts to take shape. My other stories have come to me like ghosts crossing over from the other side. I'm not sure what I'm seeing at first, a glimpse, a hint, a whisper of........something. Then slowly they reveal themselves to me, as they step out of the shadows and begin to tell me about themselves. Each one totally different from the last and they each want to tell their story in their own way, because they are after all , individuals. I love it.
I have said to friends that I'm like Haley Barber's character in the the movie Sixth Sense where he says "I see dead people."
But instead I say "I see stories" HA!
But however the initial thoughts come to pass, it is the fleshing out of the story that takes time and an attentive ear. Yes, one must listen to the characters for they will guide you and tell you where they wish to go. If you are willing they will lead you on a fascinating journey. I remember reading once that Michelangelo said that he never knew what he was going to carve until the stone spoke to him and showed him what beautiful image was waiting to be set free. I feel much the same way about my characters, I give them the freedom to speak for themselves and on several occasions I have been pleasantly surprised.
So here's to the journey. I've got a bath to take!!!!