On My Mind: Embarrassing Inspiration

As I’ve been rather busy with something rather special (Chimes, a Guild Wars 2 Zine organised by the wonderful Mel Sayre which is a gorgeous book of art and stories you should absolutely have a look at here – I’m editing and Tessa and I both have stories of our own featuring), this week I’m going to share a quick stream of consciousness. It’s a little shorter and a bit less formal than many of my other pieces, but it’s something that’s been on my mind since an acquaintance of mine told me a few weeks ago that they were a little embarrassed to “confess” that a section of their novel-in-progress had been inspired by a Britney Spears song.

Now, whatever your opinion of Britney might be, inspiration comes from weird places sometimes. We get ideas where we get them, and we have no real control over what inspires us. We can expose ourselves to things that might give us ideas, but sometimes ideas just hit us.

Shower thoughts, anyone?

My point is that there’s no shame in having an idea spawned by something unconventional or something that the internet might laugh at you for. Ideas are good, inspiration is good, wherever it comes from. It’s what you do with the idea that counts.

I’ve been inspired by music, by visual art, by film, by the news, by scenery, by random flashes of passersby seen through a train window. I’ve been inspired by things I’m proud to like and things I kind of cringe at, that are normally well outside my normal field of interest.

Let’s look at an example of mine, shall we?

In City of the Chimera, there is a particular sequence that involves my two main characters pursuing a monster. This scene was (partially) inspired by a combination of the Siena rooftop chase from Quantum of Solace (arguably the weakest of the new generation of Bond films) and “Save Yourself” by Stabbing Westward, two things I’m not exactly going to shout my praises of (and yes, those are just my opinions).

These were not things that I chose to fuel my writing, they happened inadvertently, whether or not I’d consider it embarrassing to say so. I experienced them and they gave me ideas – it’s as simple as that.

Personally, I’m fairly lucky to have hit a point where I’m not particularly embarrassed to reference my inspiration. I’m not going yell from the rooftops that once, long ago, I had a sequence planned out to a Nickelback song, but nor am I going to actively hide it.

Whether you’re inspired by children’s cartoons or by sex, (harmless, legal) drugs, and rock ‘n roll, own it. Embrace it. It’s a good thing.

After all, why should we limit our own horizons?

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