Friday, 17 August 2012

A Delivery of Ideas

Much is made of the eternal 'where do you get your ideas from' conundrum and until now I've always nodded sagely with whoever answers this question in whatever way, because we're all different aren't we?  What gives one person a searing flash of inspiration might leave another writer totally nonplussed about it all.
I've never really worried about where the ideas come from, only that they do.  And sometimes I'm surprised myself where the germ of an idea evolved, what journey it took and where it eventually deposited me.


Sometimes (if I'm lucky - and I've read some VERY lucky writers' Facebook statuses saying that they've woken up with a WHOLE book already written in their minds) I'll wake up with an idea.  And then something in the 'real world' will burst the bubble and it's gone again.  These flashes annoy me but then I convince myself that if they were that special, they'd have stuck.  And if they still think they're special enough then they'll come back. Much like the hungry pet.

Often my ideas happen when my brain is idling.  It's out of gear, it's handbrake isn't on tight enough for it not to rock in a slight breeze and I guess it's simply Open for Business. 

I get a lot of ideas in the shower.  After all what's there to really commit a mind to concentrate on in there apart from which bits to soap next and which order the shampoo and conditioner goes on (seriously, I HAVE done it the wrong way round).  There's a kind of cossetedness in the shower, isn't there? that lovely wrapped-up warmth of the steam and the lovely smells and the knowing that nobody can (or should at least) disturb you.  it's a kind of womblike place, the shower, and as much as I can't be bothered to get in and get clean, once I'm in, I don't want to get out. I rotate, I let the water spray over my face even though I hate water going on my face in swimming pools and for that reason never swim. But baths leave me cold.  No, seriously.  I just don't 'get' the whole 'have a nice relaxing bath' thing.  I'd have a much more relaxing time sitting on a spike in the middle of a field with mice running all over me.
Anyway,
I wanted to share with you the process of an idea I had the other morning.  And yes, dear Strictly Reader, it was YOU I first thought of when I found myself on this particular train of thought.

We've recently moved (hence the absense of posts, but then you probably didn't notice - I mean, who would, right?)  and because the row of houses that we've moved into has been empty for a while - a year maybe, while they've been renovated (they used to be a drug squat which I find oddly romantic but then that's the Writer in me.  Before that they were Halfway Houses and before that they belonged to Farmworkers who tended the fields around us) the postman isn't used to anybody being here.  He is now that I answered the door in a towel and not much else the other morning but that's - and could be - another story entirely.

I'd ordered a catalogue.  I can't advertise and say which. But as I was drying my hair, looking out over the fields from our new bedroom window, I saw a van draw up outside.  For reasons known only to myself and a recently traumatised postman, I decided to carry on drying my hair and leave him to it.  But I watched, dear Reader, I watched from behind the safety of the curtains, to see what he'd do.  He wasn't our usual postman and he wasn't in a Post Office van.  He had a weighty box in his arms and I knew what it was.  His van still running behind him, he peered over at the house numbers (there are 4 houses on our terrace) and left it on the doorstep of the (empty) house next to us and drove off.
Nothing sinister about that, you might think.
So I carried on drying.
Brain in Neutral don't forget.
And what followed took me by surprise.

 The guy in the van was a supplier with a grudge who'd come back to blow the ex-drug squat to smithereens by leaving what appeared, to the outside world, a *Next catalogue on the steps to a property which would, on opening, explode in the face of the person he assumed still resided there and sate his anger for all time.

And there you have it.
I don't write crime, I hardly even read it, but that's what having an active imagination does for you - it invents, it creates and it forms a wonderful world that up until a moment ago didn't exist. 

What simple everyday occurence has led YOU to something far greater?
*Other catalogues are available




5 comments:

Derek said...

Firstly, congratulations on your house move - another MAJOR stress you can tick off your list. Secondly, my immediate thought was that it was a bog-standard catalogue, but an envelope was left inserted at page 13. What's inside? Ah, that's for someone else to write.

Thirdly, I think you're right that the best of inspirations can come from giving the everyday a twist, or a motive, or a changed outcome. Maybe someone was waiting to steal the van. One thing I've learned about my own writing is that the spark of genius (excuse the artistic licence) has to be compelling for me. If it doesn't grab me at the beginning, no matter how much I work on the piece, it never has legs.

Gillian McDade said...

The Next catalogue made me laugh! I usually get a rogue catalogue from said store left occasionally in the driveway. Thanks for sharing with us, Debs.

Debs Riccio said...

A moving account, eh Derek?! We're already planning our last move into either a Winnebago or HappyFields depending on what our bodies are like in 25 years' time!
Gillian, I could spend a whole evening browsing through the N*xt catalogue - a far easier form of window shopping - and then there's the whole *inspiration* thing- esp towards the end of the book :)

Derek said...

I should think living and travelling about in a Winnebago will give you inspiration a-plenty. A mobile writing and editing surgery - now how about that for a future career?

Tina said...

Hi Debs,

I'm quite a paranoid person anyway, so I'm always seeing scenarios in everyday circumstances, it drives my husband mad. Sadly not many of them would make good stories!

We recently moved house too - beginning of July - so I sympathise.