Tag Archive | creativity

The Pirate, the Pie, and the Closet: Finding Inspiration

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.

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Make sure to check out the Home page of my site for the latest news regarding Book 3 of “The Ripple Affair” series, as well as two announcements regarding Goodreads Giveaways!  

How Writing Is Like A Dress

In continuation of last weekend’s post on comparing writing to driving, I thought I’d make another comparison today:

Writing is like a dress.

Yes, there are plenty of comparisons.  Dresses are pretty-writing is pretty.  Dresses are made-stories are made.  Dresses get stuffed in a closet, books get stuffed on a shelf.

Okay, maybe that last comparison was for me, but only because I’m a pack rat.

But the previous comparisons, though true, are not the object of the comparison I wish to give today.

About a week ago I was browsing the internet and came across an article from a writer addressed to aspiring writers who needed advice on how to write a good book.  A list appeared below the introduction, and as I glanced at the suggestions provided, I found myself feeling, well…a little ignorant, I guess…because many of the suggestions the writer said not to do was something I did as a writer.  This included using certain common words and analogies that I had often thought (and heard) were signs of “good” writing.

Don’t get me wrong-the article’s writer did offer good advice.  Many of the points made were valid.  But as I looked at this list of “do’s and don’t’s”, it made me wonder if there really is a right way or a wrong way to write.

If we look at art-say, for instance, painting-artists create their work in a variety of different ways.  Some paint exactly what they see in photographic quality.  Some paint a blurred version or maybe use different colors to convey meaning.  Others may paint shapes and lines that are abstract that may not look like what it’s based on, but if you study it closely it conveys the essence of the object or scene being painted and adds a new level of understanding to it.  Art-specifically painting in this example-has no “one size fits all” technique.  There is no single correct way to paint a picture.  There’s a variety of ways, whether it’s in the style or the utensils used, to create a work of art.  It all depends on the artist.

I think the same applies to writing.  Yes, there are some rules of thumb that you must follow in writing, such as in grammar and spelling (although even that can be played with, depending on your style).  But like painting, and like a dress, their is no “one size fits all” way to write.  For some writers, they may use a lot of dialogue.  Others may use rhyme or rhythm.  Still others may use wording techniques that others may deem grammatically incorrect.  Writing styles, like art, contain variety, all based on what the creator does.

Could you imagine if there was only one size available for a dress?  Most of the ladies would only wear shirts and pants because if only one size was available, that dress would only appeal to a small amount of people.  For writing, if all stories carried the same style, only a few readers would truly want to read it.  It would only appeal to a small audience and would limit the choices of where the audience could get a good story.

In short: variety is good (at least that’s my opinion).  It allows us, the artists or writers, to be creative and imaginative in our ways of bringing story to the world.

It also allows shopping for clothes to be a much more pleasant experience.