I used to cringe when people asked me the dreaded question, “How do you come up with your ideas?” It’s such a hard question to answer because there is no ONE answer that really covers it. Inspiration comes many times and in many forms throughout the writing of the novel. Oh, sure you get the initial surge that puts the story underway, but how do you decide what to put your characters through as they travel from point A to point B? I’ve had entire chapters spawned from watching a homeless man pick up a smoldering cigarette butt outside of a store or watching a soiled napkin dance along on the wind for parts unknown or from a vase knocked from a windowsill while dusting, shattering and sprinkling petals all over the kitchen floor or… well, you get the gist of it by now.
A muse? I don’t have one per se. It’s more like an ocean of voices vying for attention, each with a story to be told, each with a distinct voice if choose to listen. Most of the time they are hushed whispers and easy to ignore, but occasionally an event happens like one listed above and they scream out a scenario as a cause or effect and I think, Yeah, I can run with that.
Not all scenes are born of the troublesome voices in my head, some are just drudged up from past experiences (both mine and those shared with me), polished a bit and offered to my characters to do with what they will. Others travel down the road of what would happen if different choices had been made at critical crossroads in my own life. Those generally scare the hell out of me. I happen to love the life I have right now, but I’ve had many an opportunity that would’ve taken me to a different place, with different people and a drastically different outcome. I have to say, looking back, I’ve chosen wisely more often than not.
Inspiration is all around us. We are bombarded with possibilities on a daily basis. The trick is recognizing the worthy and stifling the cries of the trivial.