Guest Blogger Andrew Grey: Inspiration
As an author, one of the questions I get most is where do I get my inspiration. For me, I’m inspired by things and events all around me. They may be unique things, or everyday things that suddenly seem new. For my upcoming novel, A Shared Range, the story idea came to me as I was watching the Ken Burns documentary on America’s National Parks, specifically, the portion where the documentary discussed the reintroduction of wolves into Yellowstone. That brief scene sparked an idea, and I was up all night because the story kept flowing and I had to get it down. The entire Children of Bacchus series was inspired by a nineteenth-century bronze that stands in my dining room. I’d seen this piece for years, but a stray idea over Thanksgiving dinner turned into three novels and several short stories. Bottled Up and Uncorked were inspired by the opening of my brother’s wine store.
The thing about inspiration that I’ve learned is that you don’t have to wait for it to strike—you just need to recognize it when it happens, and remember that inspiration is not a lengthy visitor. For example, I was attending a symphony performance at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, PA. During the performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, I found myself watching the violinists and then I let my eyes close. That brief moment made me wonder what it would be like for a blind musician. On the way home from the performance, my partner graciously drove while I sat in the back seat, frantically scribbling the initial notes for what would become Love Means… No Boundaries. Yet, later that evening after dinner and conversation with friends, I stumbled back on my notes, surprised at what I’d written down, because as strong as the idea had been at the time, my mind and attention had moved on to all the other things that happened during the day. If I hadn’t made the notes during the drive home, I’d have lost the story. Instead, I got the character Robbie, who’s one of my favorites.
My favorite and most naughty bit of inspiration came for the gym series. Spot Me was inspired by one of the men at the gym. The inspiration for the character Gene is straight and a former college football player. He also has no idea that he inspired a story, and he’d probably kick my butt if he found out. The loud-mouthed character Lonnie in Spot Me, Pump Me Up, and An Unexpected Vintage was inspired by my workout partner of the same name. For the stories, I actually had to tone him down, because if I wrote him as he really is, no one would believe the character. Of all the characters I’ve created, he’s the one that most resembles a real person.
You can’t force inspiration, but by keeping attuned to what is around you, you may be surprised at the gifts of inspiration just waiting to be opened. So regardless of what your creative endeavors are, when inspiration strikes, grab hold and don’t let go.
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