On Saturday night, I was lucky enough to celebrate Poetry Month at the Kings English Bookstore’s Poetry Slam. It was my first Slam and I was glad for the smaller atmosphere – it had been a long day and I was ready to just listen to some great poetry. And I laughed and I cried and I enjoyed myself completely. But it was the conversation after that stayed with me more than the poems themselves. While chatting with two other local authors and the MC of the Slam, Jesse Parent, we got to talking about comments made on pieces. Jesse told the story of how one person came up to him after a performance and asked “Where did you come up with that idea?” The four of us laughed heartily, talking about how inspiration just comes. But, at the back of my mind I couldn’t shake the question. After all, where does it come from?
Right now, I’ve got four novels kicking around my head. One is getting focus, one is getting toyed with, and two are getting character blogs posted. I’ve woken with music the characters listen to in my head, I’ve dreamed scenes, and if I don’t get to bed at a reasonable time so I can get to work I’m gonna get in trouble. But this morning, the question about inspiration lingers. While scientists and theologians debate the issue until the end of time, I just know that for me it comes in a million different places.
Shadows in the Spotlight is a perfect example. I will never forget the moment that Marc popped into my head. I was sitting on the floor of an old land-lady’s loft apartment. We had been set to move into a trailer on her property in North Carolina, but a hurricane had taken the property to task and so my now-ex and I were biding time in her home, trading internet usage with her pre-teen son. A woman with whom I am no longer friends was obsessed with David Bowie’s band “Tin Machine” and while I found the music less than inspiring, an image of one of the band members wouldn’t leave me alone. It was just an image, a picture of a man with long dark hair and eyes that told stories I wanted him to tell. Within hours, he’d become Marc, who within weeks evolved from boy band singer turned metal-head to eternal metal-head.
As I fell into Marc’s character, I fell back into the music of Queensryche, who have been my favorite metal band since I first moved past Metallica at the age of 12. Operation Mindcrime and Empire became constant replays even while I let myself dabble with the music of Tin Machine. Never quite obsessed with the music, I was instead obsessed with the image of different members of the band. My natural fangirl nature took over and ebay and I became quite close while I found myself desperate for the music that had inspired me to find this world. I admit to not having listened to any of the music from the band for years, but I thank David Bowie and even this ex-friend for awakening something within me that was waiting to explode.
And see, that’s what I think about inspiration. When I look at the stories in Shadows in the Spotlight – the AIDS crisis, the acceptance of homosexuality, the lack of respect for bisexuality within the larger gay community, the realities of heavy metal, drugs, and what it means to be a family, I know the inspiration was waiting for a trigger. It was all there in a story I needed to tell, but I needed to be pushed over the edge. I needed to be pushed off the cliff where I was already standing.
So to all of you who ask the question “where did you get the idea?” I hope that helps. I hope that makes some sense to you. The ideas are already there. It’s up to you to grasp them.
April 21 Crone’s Hollow: http://croneshollow.com/events/
April 23 Poets Aloud! http://www.facebook.com/events/276371989112135/
April 28 When She Speaks I Hear the Revolution http://www.facebook.com/events/373848559313817/