Where do you get your inspiration?
How do you come up with your ideas? This is a question a lot of people ask writers, especially science fiction writers, since our books/stories are often nothing like reality. For me, they seem to spring into my mind unbidden -- the novel I'm currently working on came from hearing a single word (which became the title) in the middle of my daughter talking about something she had read in school. Along with it came a picture of a ritual and a world and a society. It's been expanded greatly from them, and, the way things are going, the ritual, which I love and wish I could go into in detail, features only minorly in the book.
In fact, word association or overhearing a phrase and then that word or phrase taking on a new direction is a fairly common way I get inspired. One of the short stories that I should have coming out soon from Mundania happened that way as well.
Other times I'm not even aware of what made me think of a story, it just pops up, like my sort story that was in Citizen Culture. I was standing in the kitchen watching the birds at the birdfeeder and all of sudden there was this story idea in my head. I suppose it was the fruition of ideas about religious extremism and positive and negative responses to them that had been on my mind ever since Sept 11th, but I certainly hadn't been thinking, I need to write a short story about this.
times I set out to tackle a topic that I consider important. (Almost all my writing has some polemical content to it, even when I didn't intend it to be that way.) Usually, the writing that results is not as high quality as the stuff that just comes to me. Unless it's an essay, of course. Makes sense, fiction is about the story more than the moral, so if you're writing a story for moral purposes, it can often be... well... preachy, or staid. Read the novel Pamela
if you don't know what I mean. I really admire writers who can address moral issues with fiction and not end up preachy -- Barbara Kingsolver and Louise Marley are two who jump to mind.
Anyway, this blog post was inspired by something that just tickles my fancy so much. My older daughters are all writers in their own right. (The youngest is only six, I expect her to follow in our footsteps.) The eldest is working on a spoof fantasy novel with two of her friends. The middle two are always writing short stories that plan to be novels. The younger of these two (younger by 40 minutes mind you) gets her inspiration by hanging out with our pony. I think this is SOOO quintessentially what being a young girl is about -- love of the animals in your life and love of self-expression in words -- she jumps up on the pony's back (a feat she had to pratice for months since the pony's back it about shoulder level for her) and gets out her notebook and pencil and writes. She says that's when her best inspirations come to her. I love it!