What inspires a writer? The simple answer is it depends. A more complete answer is everything. Anything and everything can prompt a writer, but not everything inspires. Prompted writing can be good, but inspired writing has passion. Passion produces the WOW factor. It’s that passion that ignites the inner fires and allows the writer to create his or her masterpiece.
An off-hand remark about a person having a “dragon complex” sparked my current work Kiss of the Dragon. A “dragon complex” refers to the belief that dragons hoard gold. Smaug, the dragon in The Hobbit is an example of this belief. The person that was being referred to has a tendency to be quite stingy and hoard their money. What do you suppose would happen if a person who has the “dragon complex” had the tendency to attract gold, is attracted to the gold themselves like a drug and was a dragon able to shift into human form? In a span of ten seconds I had my concept, my basic plot, and a cast of characters for my book. I went immediately to pen and paper and wrote 17 pages of handwritten notes on scratch paper. Granted, it was mostly illegible to anyone who didn’t know what the words were. My daughter looked at it, then looked at me as if I were crazy to think she could read it. Yeah, my handwriting at blazing speed is illegible. Deciphering my scribblings are iffy on a good day, much less when it is scrawled out during a brain gush.
Have you ever observed an artist when they are in this mode? Driven would be the best word to describe it. The creative burst must be carried out to completion. Sleeping, eating, and human interaction are all but forgotten. The story unfolding inside my mind overwhelmed my senses. My characters carried on conversations in my dreams, during waking hours, pushing me deeper into their world. I was vaguely aware of movements around me, an occasional voice directed towards me that momentarily pulled me from my fantasy world.
One ‘what if’ led to more ‘what ifs’, which led to an idea that almost made me giddy. The headiness of inspiration is addictive stuff. It penetrates the cerebral cortex stimulating the synapses to fire into the right-brained creativity which then leads to an intoxicating level of neurotransmitters releasing endorphins surging through the creative’s body. It is indeed a rush! After the initial brain gush, I had a little time to think things through and discover the complete story, subplots, and character quirks. During NaNoWriMo, I wrote a sum total of 98,000 words. I kept a good 70,000, and put the rest in a different folder. As it played out over a month, eventually I managed to get in some sleep and interaction with my family.
Instead of feeling drained and exhausted, I was exhilarated, charged for more and ready to undertake anything. Shortly thereafter though the bottom fell out and the doubts took over. Doubting that any of it was worth the digital paper where it was written, doubting that anyone would ever want to read it, and doubting that my sanity could weave a tale that actually made sense. Was I after all just a ‘pie in the sky’ dreamer? Was I chemically unbalanced, destined to end up in a psych ward somewhere talking to my dragons?
You may laugh, but when the let down happened those fears were more real than the sofa I found myself sitting on or the Haagen Das container I had emptied.
Eventually, the rollercoaster leveled off and I began editing. As I am working through it, I find myself surprised at the cohesiveness within the story. There are complex subplots working simultaneously, and fantasy elements thrown in. Well, of course there are! I’m talking about shape shifting dragons that walk amongst us appearing as regular humans.
I feel I am the toughest critic on my own work, which is why it’s usually filed. Saved on my laptop, safely buried in three layers of folders so that no one can accidentally read it and tell me what a hack I am. There are multiple spiral notebooks with partially completed projects stuffed in a file cabinet in the depths of my basement for the same reason.
The fear of rejection is an issue that every writer must eventually face. I made the decision to complete my project during NaNoWriMo. I attained that goal, but it was crude like mined ore sitting in a railroad car. I’ve been working on it since then reviewing, editing, refining, tweaking. This baby is full term, and it’s time to cut the umbilical cord. I think it’s good. I’m hard to impress, especially when it’s my own.
Have you ever had a similar inspirational spark? Something that stirred your passion and caused the creativity to flow in a way that pushed you forward, drove you to completion? There’s nothing quite like being in the zone. The creative spark is intoxicating and highly addictive. I need it, crave it, I spend numerous hours pursuing it. Spark juice, I wish it could be bottled!
Write On my friends, write on!