When you live in the city, you think anything you see sneaking around the side of your building is a thief or a pizza delivery guy who can’t admit he’s lost. In the country, everything you see sneaking around is smaller and covered in fur or feathers. This evening I was making myself another cup of tea before tackling the final draft before submission, when I saw a flash of colour behind the woodpile. It was a pheasant. Once it saw me looking at it through the window, it was off into the garden before I could say “Instagram.”
It got me thinking about inspiration. If you pick apart a writer’s work, I’ll think you’ll find elements of the familiar in there. At least if you know the writer. You might find a trip you remember, a dinner, an argument, a lazy Saturday afternoon filled with boardgames and assorted wildlife sightings. The short story I’m submitting tonight started as something like that. Something happened, many years ago, and I knew as soon as I turned away that one day I would have to write it down.
It struck me that you always hear about the downsides to knowing a writer, i.e. if you annoy us, expect to be killed off in some kind of humiliating way. We can make fall into a tub of peanut butter before being pecked to death by seagulls. We can make you bigger, or smaller, circle whichever is most embarrassing. But let’s consider the beauty of knowing a writer. Something you do or say, without knowing it, can be turned into a 7,000 word short story, or find it’s place within the pages of the novel someone spent years perfecting.
Wouldn’t that be wonderful? To know you meant so much to someone that they had give you life within their pages. To know that you were the spark that fanned a flame? Whether it’s acknowledge or not, when you read it, you will know.
We’re always looking for inspiration. We find it without even knowing it. In those moments, it’s magic.
One day, that pheasant who ran through my garden this afternoon may show up in a story. If it does, you’ll all know the day inspiration struck.