Stories–What Inspires You?

In one of my Facebook groups, another writer posed the question, “How do you draw your inspiration for your stories?”  The answers ran the gamut. I posted: “My best ideas come while lingering far too long in the shower.”

This is 100% true.  I am a bathroom-inspired genius, in part because this is what I see out my bathroom window:
There’s a fog; it’s early AM; I live in the Pacific Northwest where it’s typically gloomy this time of year. Ghostly would be another apt description, but more on that later.

As I gaze out, I often wonder what lives in that wildlife habitat.  I hear coyotes at night, and I’ve seen deer before, but I’m not really out in the country per se, just lucky to butt up against a wisp of nature.

Now, I’m not claiming that everything conceived in the bathroom has life outside the bathroom or even lives up to its initial hype, just that my bathroom is a petri dish for ideas.

I also tend to notice oddities like this leaf I saw suspended by a few spider web filaments.  It survived the entire day dangling in the parking lot over one of the spots reserved for Evergreen Health Care, so I had to snap a picture:
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Once I snapped a photo in my brand new (at the time) house and my sister helpfully pointed out that I had orbs.  That took my imagination in a whole new direction.  To this day, there’s something a little creepy about my basement, more so the guest bedroom than my workout room (pictured), though I must have the TV going at all times, either with my DVD workout playing or something mindless like QVC.

So with those types of photos / experiences, you’d think I’d write horror.  I don’t. I can, but I prefer other genres. Most of the time.

Sometimes a kernel of an idea will implant from sights like these, or a song, or a story I hear.  Over time, the idea germinates and takes off.  Maybe it grows into a full tree, maybe it’s merely a sprig of cilantro or mint for spicing up a bigger dish.

When I do flash fiction, the conception of a story idea under the pressure of a ticking clock is quite an adrenalin rush.  While my stories haven’t always been that well polished in the rush to get them down within the 90 minutes (and I’m usually finished in closer to 60 minutes because I hate to edit), the stories themselves stick with me in a good way.

So, this AM, I’m sitting down to take one of those 500 word acorns to see if I can grow it into something bigger for an anthology, something closer to 5000 to 10,000 words.  I may need to take a long shower or go workout in my haunted gym first…but I’ll get it down. I pitched my idea to the Silverback this morning before we hauled out of bed for the day. He was either humoring me because he liked my idea or was buttering me up for [[censored]], but he responded favorably.  😉

So how about you?  Where, when and how do your best ideas come to you for problem solving, story writing, artwork, whatever?

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In Praise of the Purse

Coach purse

Image via Wikipedia

Dooney and Bourke purse (cropped); Source: CC-...

Image via Wikipedia

Image via Wikipedia

I love handbags, purses, pockebooks, bags…whatever you want to call them. We have a special affinity, purses and I.  Maybe it’s because, like a faithful dog, a purse always sticks by you no matter whether you’re thin or fat, fit or flabby, tall or short.  Your purse is always there, always happy to hang by your side or on your arm, thrilled to carry your things.

I have quite a large collection of bags, my favorites being Coach, Dooney & Bourke, Cole Haan, and my latest addition, a cute little copper Tiganello number with matching wallet.  I rotate them every few months to match bag to season.  I have colors ranging from your basic black, brown, tan and navy to jade green, teal, rouge (no, it’s not red but rouge…there is a difference), parrot green, lilac, purple, white with pastel colors, and olive.  Most are leather but a few are cloth or coated cotton, some sporting the logos of their makers, but most not.

Aside from its beauty as a work of art, a purse is, most importantly, a functional part of any self-respecting woman’s wardrobe.  Anything important I need to carry goes into my purse–wallet, aspirin, pens, business cards, toiletries–you name it, I probably got it.  If I need to remember to take something somewhere, I need only tuck it into my purse.  Really, everybody should carry one.

The Silverback included.

He’s always forgetting his wallet or his cell phone or pieces of paper with important phone numbers on them.  When we go to movies, I am the one who has to break the movie theatre laws and risk, I don’t know what, but something heinous, if caught smuggling in candy and sodas.  Why I’m so worried about some cinema staff one quarter of my age busting me over bottles of water and Diet Coke, is a story for another day.  But I get to tote my overstuffed gargantuan handbag into the theatre only to have three sets of male hands (I have two teenaged sons) pawing at it before the lights even dim.

Clearly they see some value in the handbag.

If the Silverback carried one too, he’d never forget his wallet or cellphone.  He’d always have his checkbook, would always have extra Tylenol when I ran out.  He’d be able to carry his own car keys into sporting events and he’d have a place to stash his hat instead of losing it at a restaurant.

With his superior strength, he could not only pack an entire two liter bottle of soda in his man purse but probably a family sized pizza too.

The dog’s leash and poopy pick up bag would always be handy.  He could carry coupons and save us money instead of shrugging and whining, “I had no place to put them.”  He could carry a bigger wallet with more compartments in which to organize decades old photos and expired credit cards.  He could carry his own pair of tube socks for trying on shoes during sandal weather.  All his little spare parts he needs to take to the hardware store to replace?  Yep, the man purse would allow him to move to from store to store without flashing everyone his business.

I don’t know why he doesn’t carry one.  It makes perfect sense to me.  He could buy one in a manly color or even camouflage print if he liked.  I wouldn’t care, though I’d rather he nab a nice cordovan colored one in case I ever wanted to borrow it.