If you missed part 7, please click here:
https://somersetwriters.wordpress.com/2016/09/23/the-growth-of-a-novel-5/

 

Part 8

Inspiration

Here I will be a little contentious in that I think it is a waste of time waiting for inspiration to come, that way all you produce is white paper.

If you are a writer, then you want to write, you need to write so you must write. It doesn’t matter what you write, you just have to write. Depending on your age, you will have years of stored memories of people, actions, scenes, cities, countryside, wild creatures and memories of your own experiences in your head. You have enough stored there to invent, confuse, conflate, alter and write down. The memories you have stored are almost inexhaustible. When a writer says that they don’t have anything to write about, all it means is they have not been able to access their memories.

Why would you want to do the cliché thing and go for a walk around the city streets recording what you see and what you hear? If you are, say 30 years old, then you are adding one day’s memories to some nine thousand day’s worth of memories you already have in your head. If you accurately write what you have seen, heard and experienced during the day then you are a journalist. That’s fine if that’s what you want to do but is it creative? Why are the memories of that one day more valuable than the other nine thousand?

All you need as a writer to write is a pen and a piece of paper or a computer and a place of quiet to think and write.

If you cannot think of anything to write about then the problem is accessing your memories. So how do you go about this? Try triggers, connections, linkages and conflations.

For example, if you are married and wear a ring then try using it as a trigger to generate a stream. A ring made of gold, the gold may have come from South Africa, that means travel, where have you travelled to. Perhaps Spain, do you speak Spanish, do you know any Spanish people, how do they differ from people of your own country, manufacture a Spanish character. Are they married, do they wear a ring, Do they speak English, What type of accent do they have, where do they live, where do they work. How do they dress, how are their mannerisms.

Where did you buy your ring, when and who put it on your finger, another character coming to life. Who lives next door, use his/her characteristics, conflate them with someone else you know, another character comes to life.

Which mine did the gold in your ring come from, a character works as a miner, what country, what mineral. Why is he a miner?

What did you do yesterday, what did you notice during the day – any potential characters, any actions that could be developed into a plot.

How about settings, have you travelled, which countries, did you mix with the local people, get to know some of them. What about memories of your childhood holidays with your family, where did you go, have yo been back, have they changed, if so how?

I think that what I am saying is that you have enough material in the memory bank inside your head to mine for things to write about. You will certainly get into areas that you know nothing about – these give you an excuse to procrastinate, travel and research. If you mix and stir these memories into a witches brew then a chemical and emotional reaction will take place that will result in the creation of new wonders to write about.

You can try what I call second hand writing, your parents, relations and friends will have told you lots of stories over the years so, again, you can mine those memories for stories about your ancestors, start family history research to find out stories of characters that only have a name until you start the research. Can you use the characteristics of some of your relations as the basis of characters – remember to change the names to protect the guilty.

If none of this has worked try free writing – this does work!

Set an alarm for fifteen minutes. Try and ensure you will not be disturbed for that time. Pick a random theme. err… Clouds for example.

Start writing, don’t worry about grammar, spelling or punctuation, write down phrases, connections, imagine the scene, fill it with characters, ramp up the tension and then release it quickly. Imagine you are steering along a triadic arc. Don’t really think, just write. Continue until the alarm goes, then stop. Look at what you have written. Does it make sense – almost certainly not, but is your head full of images, actions and characters? Can you see a story developing? Is it Life writing, Travel writing, Non fiction, Short story, The start of a novel, Poetry etc.?

Look again at what you have written as a bowl of soup. Are there bones in there that you can pick out and make something of?

I tried the same thing with clouds. I started to cue clouds, conflate with queue, set Cue as a place, where would it be, try Australia which can be dusty and have a lot of flies especially WA where the iron ore comes from. Cue conflates to snooker cue. And so on. The research was into a place called Cue, they have an iron mine…

I have put here the resulting story which is complete rubbish but the point is that Characters, Setting and Actions are beginning to emerge as the starting point for something else.

If you try free writing everyday for a month, you will find that you never have to ask that dreaded question again, ‘What shall I write about?’ Just go and do some mining in that store of wonders inside your head – and try free writing.

Inspiration, who needs it?  All it takes is hard work.

*****

  Clouds

Here in the desert in Western Australia we don’t get many clouds and even less rain, so when the clouds showed up in a pinky sort of turquoise sky, everyone stopped for a good look at them. They were the grey, puffy sort with the flat bottoms. The sort you could imagine scudding across the sky above the African plains before the rains of the wet season started.

‘You won’t get any rain out of them,’ I averred.

‘No,’ agreed Bruce, ‘and, if you did, it wouldn’t rain cats and dogs here in Cue, more like scorpions and flies.’

‘With maybe some dust thrown in.’

‘Yup, there’s always dust.’ said Bruce as we joined the queue in Cue.

*

There was only Mrs Brown and the vicar from St Martin’ sin front of me so it shouldn’t take long to get what I wanted. I could have them without gift wrapping, that would save a bit of time as I didn’t want to be late for the match at the snooker club.

I tried not to listen to what they asked for, it was none of my business but what would a vicar be wanting at this time of night and why hadn’t he gone straight to the event horizon anyway instead of here at the five corner shop?

‘I’ll just take a sermon please Mr Patel,’ said the vicar irritably. I think he was a little cross with himself, which he wore on a silver chain, bouncing against his chest, with his belly shelfing enough to catch it if the chain broke and choked the monkey.

‘Mounted, reverend?’ asked the shop keeper.

‘Always, we don’t want to hide our lamp under a bushel do we?’

‘Err, whatever you say, that will be thirty five beatitudes please.’

‘Bless you my son,’

‘But I haven’t sneezed yet.’

‘Well, just keep it in your bushel until you need it then. Thank you, good night Mr Patel.’

The vicar stomped off up the hill to deliver his sermon on horseback.

*

‘Hello Mrs Brown, we haven’t seen you around here for a while have we? I hope you haven’t been disloyal and doing your shopping at Nouns-R-Us or up at that new gerunds place?’

‘Oh no, I wouldn’t do that, it’s just that I haven’t been too good lately so I’ve been making do with adverbs, just treating myself to the odd coincidence on Sundays.’

‘Only teasing Mrs Brown, what can I get you this evening?’

‘I’d like two wins and a coincidence please.’

‘Any special medium you prefer?’

‘No, it doesn’t have to be a medium, I don’t really do paranormal, just standard is fine.’

‘OK, I’ll just drop a little telepathy in the brown paper bag then, OK?’

‘Oh, you shouldn’t have said that, it’s really not necessary.’

‘I know, but I enjoy telekinesis, BBC2 mainly’

‘And what’s wrong with Emmerdale then?’

‘Well it’s not Corrie is it and it never has that nice prof Brian Cox in it.’

‘That’s because he’s a physicist.’

‘Could still leave BBC2 now and then couldn’t he, even if he is a necromancer. There’s no art blacker than Emmerdale to my mind.’

‘OK then, I’ll arrange it for you, but it will cost extra you know, plus VAT.’

‘That’s fine, just take it out of my paradocs’

‘OK, ’Night Mrs Brown.’

‘’Night Mr Patel, see you next week.’

*

It was now my turn but, before I had a chance to step up to the plate, a saucer landed just in front of me and demanded the cup that he had just one so where was it? Mr Patel had to admit that he had swatted it, thinking it was a fly. It was not one of the main characters in the story, just an extra…terrestrial. I knew then that I would have to charge him with cuppable homicide.

Swatting flies soon becomes a habit with anyone who lives here in Cue. The town makes its living from exporting flies and dust by rail to Meekatharra and then on to Perth. You can’t see the flies because of the dust of course. The gold mines closed at the end of the war. A few men work at the Crosslands iron ore mine to the west. So iron or flies and dust just provide a living for this forgotten town of 328 people.

‘G’Day Bruce’ I said to Mr Patel as I arrested him.

‘Don’t you want to get your shopping done before you arrest me?’ he asked – always the salesman.

‘Ok, I’ll take an infundibulum then, I don’t want to be late for the barbie do I?’

‘D’ya want the chronosynclastic or the antediluvian model?’

‘I’ll take the chronos, don’t try and fob me off with one of those old models that don’t work during the Wet. Can you deliver it to the snooker hall for me?’

‘No worries, mate,’ said Mr Patel as he struggled with his sled dog.

‘Wooof,’ coughed the husky, who was feeling a little horse, as he lit a cigarette.

‘Could you throw in a paradox please, I don’t think Occam is on duty tonight?’

‘OK, mate, that’ll be twenty seven dollars but, of course, it will all be free.’

Excellent service I thought, right on cue.

I looked out the door to see if Mrs Brown’s coincidence had turned up yet. She had. ‘How nice to see you Mrs Brown,’ said Lydia. ‘I haven’t seen you for years. I didn’t know you lived here, you were the last person I expected to meet. How is your daughter doing, I believe she went off to Perth to marry that nice miner? How long ago was that…?’

*

I walked up main street after dropping Bruce off at the sheriff’s office to be charged, he was getting a little dim. The snooker hall was on the left and the barbie was just being lit in the fire pit.

That was my cue from the infundibulum, which had clearly done its job well, to join the queue to use the only available cue in Cue to take my shot before setting off down the pit to the barber queue for a burger and a cold tinnie.

END

Cue house lights and curtain.

*****

That is the end of my series on writing my novel. Thank you for joining me on this journey. The usual warning! This is not advice, it is just the way I write.

I welcome your views on this and to hear how you write, either here or on the discussion forum. Most writers like feedback!

I’ll not carry on into editing. Although this is critically important and very enjoyable – you get to enjoy again what you have written – I have not done this for a novel, just for poetry and short stories so far, so I don’t feel I have anything to offer.

I will be sure to let you know when my ( first ) novel is ready to be seen in public.

Enjoy your writing !

© Richard Kefford                                                                                                        Eorðdraca

*****

My Kindle books are on Amazon at:

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