Monday, March 27, 2006

Inspiration Point

I'm still basking in the glow of the warm Bermudean sun.

Well, not really. It was windy and fairly cold throughout Toasty Joe and my Bermudean sojourn over the weekend. But we managed to have fun: visiting historic lighthouses and the old Dockyards, getting massages and eating spiny lobsters and fish chowder.

And finding writerly inspiration. During a summer visit a year and a half ago, I first learned of Bermuda's importance as a base for Confederate blockade runners during the Civil War. While I toured a preserved colonial mansion, I pictured the life of a young woman on the island, growing up in that home, the conflicts that could arise from a non-slaveholding island supporting the slave states of America. Returning to the island only whetted my interest in researching this topic. I'm certain there are the makings of a great book here.

I generally feel that way when I go on vacation. Maybe it's the distance from my ordinary life that allows me time to brainstorm. More likely it's my obsession with visiting historic homes. Writing historical novels (for now, don't get me started on my plans for contemporaries), visiting historic sites. I think that's what they call synergy!

Now if only I could publish one of these books and finally deduct my "research" trips from my taxes. That would be inspiring.

But the bigger question is, what makes an idea a fruitful one? I think I've really got one with this Bermuda book. Can you tell when you've hit upon something real? I certainly did with Wedding Widow: sat down and wrote the prologue the day after visualizing the first scene in my head, before I even knew who the hero was.

Other writers?

8 comments:

Holly said...

I get inspiration when I'm away from home, too. Like when I go to the beach. I'll have the worst case of writer's block and I'll head to the beach for a weekend and come home with a whole book full of ideas (yay me! LOL).

I'm a contemp person myself. To be honest, I don't have the dedication or drive to research historical periods. I don't really have the interest, either.

But you know, I remember reading a book about a Civil War era island with just that issue. If I remember the title, I'll let you know.

Don't hold your breath, though, because my memory is sadly non-existant lately. *sigh*

Kate D. said...

I think when you're away from home your "monkey mind" goes on vacation. You're not freaking out about the phone bill anymore, you can't eye your laundry pile with remorse... and since you put all that guilt on hold it leaves room for more productive thoughts.

I know when I was in Ashland soaking in a hots spring spa I was feeling much more inspired than I am tonight, in my study, surrounded by various haphazard clumps of as-yet-ungraded assignments.

To historical, or not to historical? That is the question. All of my ideas lately have been contemporary, but I keep a list of potential historical plots, too. I worry about it, though... being a former history major, I definitely have the dedication and drive to research for a historical.

But I think I'd get bogged down in the historical details, and creeped out by the necessary liberties one takes in order to make past times sexy (medieval heroines with all their teeth? Anyone? Anyone?)

Kate D. said...

Holly, what kind of writing are you working on?

Toasty Joe said...

I can vouch for Bermuda's windiness (is that a word?) this past weekend, and I offer as proof the following picture of Flitgirl, which was taken just moments before she was smacked in the face by the choppy surf on a boat ride from Hamilton to Southampton:

http://i1.tinypic.com/sfh26a.jpg

Holly said...

I totally agree with you about your "monkey mind" going on vacation when you do. It's so much easier to concentrate on other things when real life isn't staring you in the face.

I'm working on several things at the moment. I recently started a new story with the idea that my heroine may or maynot be a serial killer (she hasn't told me yet..LOL)...but it's pretty much in the "research" stage at this point.

I had the idea to do a historical a few months ago. Something set in Scotland. I started doing the research and ended up with a fairly good (IMO) prologue, but when I started writing the first chapter I just couldn't get a feel for the time period, so I ended up using the prologue and changing the storyline to a contemp.

I'm also writing another story about four friends and their trials and tribulations. But sometimes I feel like everything I write has already been done, you know?

I'm suffering from a major case of writer's block right now, too, which doesn't help. I'll get an idea, but as soon as I try to put in down on paper I lose interest or momentum.

*sigh*

Eventually I'll get something done, though, right? Maybe....

theflitgirl said...

I hear you with the writer's block, though in my case it's not so much blocked ideas or motivation as disrupted schedule. I was doing so, so well with writing almost everyday, finishing my book in under year. Then I took a break to apply to grad school and it's been hell getting back into the routine. Moral of the story is, never stop writing.

When I was feeling blocked, I just forced myself to keep going and eventually came out on the other side. Now, somehow, I've got to do that again.

Maybe we can all act like electric cattle prods on one another. Give a shock when the writing motivation flags...

Holly said...

Actually, I think that's a great idea. If I had someone to prod me in the back I might actually make more of an effort.

I'm willing if you are. =)

Kate D. said...

Before I'm allowed to keep writing I have to finish student teaching (next Friday--squee!) and do my taxes.

Then bring on the cattleprods, the tazers, and anything else that might help me write.