Saturday, 24 July 2010

Writing Ideas and Inspiration


The mysterious nature of the source of inspiration and ideas for writing is a constant subject for debate – especially, perhaps, among those who do not write. Those who do write are probably just thankful that ideas do come to mind, and don’t spend a lot of time analysing where they spring from. Such analysis can be fun, though, if it isn’t overdone.

‘Where do you find ideas?’ is such a common question at book talks that I once wrote a short story with that title. It’s not a very well known story, but I much enjoyed putting it together – and it became the title story in my one - and so far only - collection of short stories.

When I told Margaret Yorke I was featuring The Small Hours of the Morning in this blog, she told me: ‘my plan was to have a sort of La Ronde where each character linked to the next one going in a circle and also the heroine had no physical contact with a soul, not a touch..I must read it, don't remember the details’

I was very interested in this. The La Ronde idea strikes me as a very good one. And I wasn’t in the least surprised that Margaret didn’t remember the details of a book she wrote 35 years ago. Non-writers may imagine that writers retain in their heads all the nuances of books they have written, but it simply is not so. I forget some of the aspects of my early books, that’s for sure. But it can have a positive effect. When Suspicious Minds was finally published in the US, more than 15 years after it was written, I re-read it and was, oddly enough, very pleasantly surprised! It seemed to have rather more merit than I’d remembered...

7 comments:

Margot Kinberg said...

Martin - Interesting you should mention the sources of our inspirations. I think writers have to be open to ideas coming from just about anywhere. A look, a piece of scenery, someone else's writing, even a traffic jam, can be the source of inspiration for a story or a novel.

...and thanks for sharing that Margaret Yorke story. Makes me feel better about my own memory...

Eric Mayer said...

Indeed I have forgotten a lot of what I've written but there are also writings I only wish I could forget!

Martin Edwards said...

Eric, I know what you mean!

Martin Edwards said...

Another point about memory - I find (and I know I'm not alone) that I forget small details about the lives of my series characters. This is, I guess, an argument for maintaining character biographies, something I haven't really done.

Fiona said...

Do you know The Octave of Jealousy by Stacey Aumonier? It's a masterpiece of 'La ronde'.

And I can relate to forgetting your own work - I mentioned the other day that I choreograph folk dances. I've written about 70 over the past 12 years and many of them I've only called, never danced. We now have a new caller at the local dance club who likes to call my stuff - sometimes I'm agreeably surprised at what a good dance it is!

Martin Edwards said...

Hi Fiona. I don't know that Aumonier story. Is it readily available?
Folk dances - very interesting. What does 'calling' involve (sorry I'm ignorant about this...)?

Fiona said...

Martin, Stacy Aumonier's story was first published in a collection of his short stories Ups and downs (1929) but I found it in an anthology by 'Miss Read' called Country Bunch (1963). I have to admit it's the only thing of his that I've read. There's an interesting article about him in Wikipedia .

A folk dance caller teaches the sequence of moves of a dance while the dancers walk it through, then the caller prompts with reminders when the music is playing. There's an art in timing it right so the dancers know what to do at just the right moment so it fits the music perfectly...nice when it gels, but that doesn't always happen! :)