Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Writerly Wednesday: A strange place to find inspiration


My youngest daughter's school delayed the start of classes by more than a week this year. Since my oldest daughter's school started on time, I ended up with a slight day care dilemma.
To make a long story short, I turned to the woman who looked after my oldest daughter until she started first grade.
It had been about nine years since I'd been to her house, and I'd nearly forgotten about the source of inspiration I'd once found between her neighborhood and the downtown area where I work.
My husband calls it one of the strangest sources of inspiration ever.
It consists of three run-down, cookie cutter shacks. They sit one-after-another just feet from the street, boards covering the windows.
A steel railroad bridge rises behind them, allowing passage for the trains moving from one steelyard to another.
Across the street, an empty warehouse waits for someone to take ownership. I used to wonder what kind of people had lived there.

As I drove past that place day after day -- so many years ago -- the picture of its occupants came into view.
In my mind, I saw a woman sitting on the front steps, stroking her pregnant belly as she sought relief from the summer heat with a glass of iced tea. I saw her mate, a hard worker but a hard partier, too. He cared about her, but his distractions didn't allow him to pay much attention to her.

Maybe that was why she seemed so distant. Maybe not.

Whatever the reason, I knew it was my own twisted, romanticized vision of life at the bottom, shaped by the way I perceived the world.
Imagination is a funny thing, shaped by how we have experienced the world and how we think the world should be. We each find inspiration and interpret it in our own unique way. The one-of-a-kind world view allows infinite creative possibilities.
I'm okay that my husband thinks that area of town is a strange place to find inspiration.
That's not the way I see it.

What has been the strangest source of inspiration for you?

6 comments:

lynnrush said...

Strangest? I'm not sure it was the strangest, unexpected I'd say.

I was just sitting in Barnes and Noble working away on another project. In walks this tall, skinny girl, wearing a blue tu-tu with dark leggings and a bright red top.

I did a double, then triple take. . . but then, I thought, 'Oh yeah, what a great character.' I stopped what I was doing, wrote over a thousand words. It ended up being the opening scene of the book that landed me my agent.

Crazy weird. Totally unexpected. But hey, gotta go with the flow when it starts, right?

Write on, my friends!!

Crimey said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Crimey said...

Strangest, hmm? I can't say, but my current WIP was inspired by me peering out the window of my "then" fourth floor apartment as snow blanketed Chicago and thought, "what ifs". Those what if's led to a full-fledged novel. Inspiration comes in all shapes and forms. :)

Rosslyn Elliott said...

Hmmm - I don't know if I have a strangest. Let me think...

History is stranger than fiction, so I guess my answer is that reading history and biography always inspires me. Life is much more random and interesting than anything I could dream on my own.

KM Wilsher said...

I would love to visit your inspiring place :) Me? Paintings. Movies. and above all: Hiking :)

(oh and this one kiss I received LOL)

cassandrajade said...

Strangest inspiration would have to be the tiles on the bathroom floor at some museum (or some other public building) I once visited. The pattern just really drew me in and each tile seemed to be leaning up against the other and if one of them had broken free it seemed like the whole floor would fall apart - or at least it did by the time my over active imagination got hold of it. Strange, but this lead me to write a short story about a floor that actually did fall away.
Thanks for sharing your strange inspiration with us.