Yesterday, while undertaking serious research for a writing idea – okay, I was procrastinating on Facebook – I saw the most stunning picture of an abandoned theatre in America somewhere. It was beautiful, haunting, and sad. The photograph was a piece of art that gave rise to a spurt of creativity and inspiration. It made me wonder where others got their inspiration from and what random triggers could do.
Later that afternoon, while continuing to do research – again, Facebook procrastination; I’m sorry – a friend of mine put up the simply status update Story Prompt: Wither. Just those 3 words. For some reason the word wither took my mind to the humid deep south in America, an older lady, sitting on the patio of a run down plantation, fruit withering and dying on the vine, and the lady lost in the haze of memories from her youth. It happened instantly.
I like the idea of story prompts and that’s partially what today’s post is about, but it’s also about random moments when the muse prompts you in life too. Not all prompts are story germinating. Some germinate inspiration in the form of exercise or writing a blog or even getting a new hair style (totally useless prompt for me, I’ve been rocking the Homer Simpson Hairstyle for a decade now).
On Twitter this morning one of the people I follow send out a tweet about a conversation related to middle-aged white men whinging the science fiction fantasy world wasn’t flat, and was – hold onto your hats – being over run by women!! I know, it’s shocking. Who would think it. Obviously it’s a complete travesty.
Anyway, here’s the link to the article: http://www.dailydot.com/lifestyle/sfwa-sexism-sci-fi-nebulas-mary-kowal/
Reading both the tweet and the attached blog post prompted my Muse to get involved. Granted, at the moment she appears to be on an enforced holiday at the Club Med for Muses with Writers who Refuse to Write, but she’s around when I least expect it.
The conversation basically boiled down to one tweet that said “write the story first and foremost for you. Don’t worry what anyone else thinks until it’s done.”
I could have written that piece of advice for myself. I constantly worry about the “reader” or the “publisher”. Why, I have no idea. It’s not like I ever finish anything. There’s always a new prompt, a new idea, an old idea that deserves to be rehashed, a new old idea, a mash up of old and new with a tinge of current. There’s always procrastination.
I once read that procrastination was simply fear you couldn’t do something, so you simply don’t try. I don’t doubt that is true, but so is the reverse. For me, it’s a fear I’ll do it and then spend another decade punching myself in the eye because I wasted so much time in the first place.
The little tweet helped to unlock a piece I’m writing for a workshopping group, and it also unlocked my biggest problem with the group. With the group I’m learning to write for an audience. I’ve never really done that. I’ve only ever written for myself. I’ve “pretended” it’s for an audience, but it’s only ever been for me.
Blogging is really the only time I write with “other” in mind and even then 9 times out of 10 in here, it’s more me writing for me, as way to untangle the brain pathways to see why something is happening.
I’m considering doing some more prompt work. And also to setting times to do a writers express; just sit for a set amount of time and write with no focus but the words and the worlds themselves.
Who knows, maybe my withered old woman, on her withered old plantation, under a withering humidity might make it into a story after all.