Friday, 25 November 2011

How Do You Find Inspiration?

One of the commonest questions fiction writers get asked, I think, is “where does your inspiration come from?” The simplest, and actually truest, answer is “everywhere”, yet that always sounds like a cop-out to me. In reality, inspiration CAN come from anywhere; from your everyday life, from the people around you. It hides within the events of your day, or maybe what you see on TV or read in the newspaper. It can spring out at you from something you overheard, some joke or snippet of gossip while you were in the coffee shop or having lunch with your friends. Creative people can recognise inspiration where others might only see the ordinary, or mundane.

Personally, I think that finding inspiration also depends on what type of genre you write in. If I was a romance writer, or a crime writer, I could find a wealth of inspiration on any news channel. Horror writers too, I’d imagine – far too often! But what if you’re like me, a fantasy writer? How does a writer who works in unfamiliar, created worlds find inspiration? Does it come purely from our own imagination or can it also be found in our everyday lives?

The answer, of course, is “yes, of course it can,” and just the other day I found a prime example of how inspiration works for me.

I am extremely fortunate to live in a particularly beautiful and rural part of North Hampshire in the UK. I am surrounded by farmland, by fields of crops, by hedges that change their colours depending on the season. Rabbits and hares, deer and pheasant run in the fields (not always a good thing when you own Lurchers, as I do!) and there are wide field margins around which the farmer permits us to walk. Our roads are country lanes and therefore fairly quiet, and the village is one of the prettiest around. It also contains some of the nicest people you could wish to meet.

This area is primarily a working, food-producing farm. Wheat, sesame, oilseed rape, grass for seed and hay, sheep, cattle and pigs can all be found in the fields. Tractors are a regular sight and they can churn up the lanes and field margins, especially at this time of year. Farmers by nature and profession are a practical lot, not given, you’d be excused for thinking, to flights of fancy. And yet, one day, I turned a corner of a field I often walk around and was confronted by the scene in the photo above. There, in the entrance to a mundane, muddy, working farmyard were these fabulous standing stones, appearing as if by magic (although I suspect by tractor) overnight. I was entranced. Such an unexpected sight immediately set my writing senses a-tingle – how could I fail to be inspired?

What gets your creative juices flowing? Has anyone else come across something so unexpected, it resulted in a piece of writing? I’d love to hear!