Thursday, January 31, 2013

Recycled: Inspiration in the Strangest Places

Writers are often asked where they get their inspiration. What led you to write that scene that changed my life forever? That moment when all the planets aligned and the readers saw that you had planned it from the very beginning. Was it divine intervention? Was it your love of research? A pivotal moment in your life?

Who knows? I am often surprised by what causes my best stuff to appear. It is normally a moment that is so inconsequential to every one around me, but yet, sends my poor little brain on a tailspin. A trivial little glance that balloons into an entire chapter. A scent that makes my typing fingers ache under the need to get it down before it leaks through my pores.
One night, I was laying on the bed and working on a scene that was severely lacking. It needed something to give it depth. Something to show a sense of symbolism for how different this particular character sees the world. I gave up and moved on, knowing that I would come back to it later. I knew that if I try to force it, well – it will seem forced. And we don’t want that, now do we?

So as I moved on, I heard this buzzing--the very distinctive hum of a fly. I watched the annoying critter in his confusion of trying to locate the best place to sit. Have you ever really watched a fly? I swear it is like the perfect illustration of ADD. "I think I will sit here, oh wait, blinds." 

I slid from the bed and went to the kitchen to retrieve the flyswatter. I came back to find that he has disappeared. Now, I have played this game before. So instead of wasting my time – I sit down on the bed knowing that as soon as I begin concentrating the insect will begin his annoying song once more. He does not disappoint.

I ease from the bed and watch him as he dances from one surface to another, teasing me as he hovers over a surface and then takes flight once more. I track him like an avid hunter. He rests on the door frame. I lift the flyswatter mere inches from his little body, trying my damnedest not to disturb the air, and in a swift movement I flick my wrist and watch his lifeless body fall to the floor.

I do my victory dance and look up to see my husband staring at me like I have lost my mind. My only response is not to admit that I am crazy, and instead, sing a song about murdering this poor critter.

After I have celebrated my kill, I use the flyswatter to scoop up the stiff remains. When the fly is at eye level, I catch a glimpse of the insect in the light. I take a closer look to see how beautifully painted this insignificant little bug is. When you see a fly, they appear black and you never notice their iridescent wings, the green covering with  gold flecks, and the details of the gigantic eyes (better to see you with, my dear). And in this moment, I have found my answer. The death of a fly gave the depth to the character for which I was so desperately searching.

And if you ever read Iron Thirst, I hope when you reach that chapter you are not too distracted by the image of me chasing down a fly--ninja style.


  1. Love this image. I never thought of flies as having ultimate ADD, but they are amazingly beautiful . . . while at the same time being annoying and kind of icky.
    I'm looking forward to reading your book and even looking for the ninja fly moment.

  2. And when will it get published, my dear? ;)


  3. I'll be looking forward to read Iron Thirst.

    You are right about the inspiration. I have also found it in strange places. The bad side is that it often happens in places I cannot write the ideas down, so they flee, like flies.