I’ve done it!
I’ve managed to produce a query letter that I don’t hate!
I’m not quite ready to admit to liking it, but I am ready to admit that it’s not too bad. (For a complete listing of acceptable emotional responses from my upbringing, see my post Deepest Fears #2: Writing the (Gulp!) Love Scene)
Hours of fretting over this miniscule 200 word piece produced nothing but a few scattered sentences with no connective tissue- dry bones on the valley floor. Lifeless. Useless.
Then came the moment of change. To use the word “miraculous” seems presumptuous, but it certainly feels like something came from nothing. I woke up this morning, and the words were there, all laid out and formatted perfectly in my head.
Unwilling to lose the moment, I grabbed an unused Christmas card off of the floor and the first writing utensil that I could find- a dull, red, colored pencil. (Ahem. I may not be the best housekeeper.)
Joy of joys, the words still made sense post-coffee. I’d done it!
Yes… I’d done it, but how? Where did the inspiration come from? What changed internally or externally that finally broke the block?
Is creative inspiration is just the resurfacing of bits of background knowledge that have stewed together long enough for the subconscious to make them into a new thought? Or is it something that can be tracked down manually, by following the right steps? Or is it different for each individual?
I think I traced the roots of my novel, but how the sources managed to inspire what I’ve written is still a mystery.
I had expressed my dislike for the James Bond franchise to my husband some time ago. On closer questioning, he discovered that the three films I had seen were what he would consider the worst of the bunch. The solution: watch them ALL with me. (This included the unofficial one Sean Connery did after he was retired from the role.)
Mix in the fact that I had just rediscovered my love of Agatha Christie’s cozy mysteries and had just begun reading aloud The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe with my children and voila! I was visited by a dream detailing the climax of my story in vivid color. While it didn’t look a thing like the three sources I believe it sprang from, I can see little bits of influence from Bond, Christie, and even Lewis. (No, it doesn’t include anyone throwing killer hats. I wish…)
Of course a climactic scene does not a story make. The who’s and why’s and wherefore’s presented themselves as I let my mind wander while washing dishes.
The inspiration was just there without me seeking it out. I didn’t have to do any real work on the story until I started research.
In the end I don’t have any great thesis to present for why ideas come how and when they do. I’m just grateful that they do, and for the chances I have to capture them before they slip away.
Now, if only I can stay on this ‘inspiration high’ and keep myself from picking my query apart again. (Of course the word ‘problem’ in the second paragraph may not be the best word choice… hmm….)
Writers, where do you find your inspiration? Is it more a process or a revelation? Do you work better within defined roles, or in open-ended situations?