One of the questions I hear often between writers is where inspiration comes from. Some create stories after going through a life event. Some come up with a brilliant character that is based off of their own personality. Some develop their own worlds and people through a vivid imagination, playing with plots based on what they want to create.
And then there’s people like me who just plain have wacky dreams and it somehow turns into a story.
Don’t ask me how it happens. I’m still trying to figure it out. I think it may have something to do with eating potato chips before bed, but I’ve yet to prove my theory. But somehow, someway, that’s what my biggest inspiration for stories is.
A decade ago, I was content with just one story to work on. “The Ripple Affair” was a fun project that served as a break from my college studies, and I was planning on finishing it and then moving on with my life in a separate career. And then, one fateful night, I had a dream.
In the dream, I was on a pirate ship. The room was gently rocking with the sea and I was in the captain’s cabin, sitting as a guest with some other pirates at a table. The captain was a rather fancy-looking man who was funny and friendly, and throughout the dream we all just sat and chatted the night away. But in the middle of our conversation, the captain suddenly stood to his feet and headed to a closet near his desk. He opened it, everyone stopping and staring at the contents within, and showed off a row of chocolate pies that he had stashed away. Apparently the captain really loved chocolate pies and, feeling hungry, decided to pull one out to eat while we continued to chat.
I woke wondering why on earth I had dreamed such a weird dream, but then it hit me: I never heard of a pie-addicted pirate. I wonder what it would be like if such a pirate were real? After spending the morning thinking, I decided to write my new ideas on paper for some notes. Days passed, and I continued to think on the idea, until eventually I decided to write a small story about the silly pirate just for fun. Long story short, the small story turned into a novel, which then turned into a series…and “The Adventures of Captain Patty” was born.
Inspiration is one of those things that we often search for as writers. We want something unique for our stories…something that hasn’t been done before. Though the world around us has plenty to offer, inspiration often works in mysterious ways, popping up when we least expect it. Sometimes it hits when we’re dreaming. Sometimes it hits when we’re doing the dishes or going for a morning jog. Sometimes it’s obvious and we can’t help but run with it, yet sometimes it’s also subtle and easy to miss if we’re not paying attention. The point is inspiration is different for everyone, yet like Forrest Gump says with his “life is like a box of chocolates” speech, we never really know what…or when…we’re going to get it. But just like those box of chocolates (or, in Captain Patty’s case, a chocolate pie), when that inspiration arrives, it’s the sweetest thing imaginable, and we can’t help but savor the moment.