One thing I get from reading a bunch of how-to write stuff, across the board — and something I’ve always known, if not in so many words — is about the fundamental lack, anywhere, of any kind of magical font of ideas and inspiration for good (or bad) fiction. There is no list you can pick from, guaranteed or your money back, for inspiration for a story.
I’ve always been of the situational school of inspiration. Or of the copying school. I copied a lot, as a lad. No comment as to whether or not I still do.
But one thing that always, always goes on in this skull of mine is absorbsion. Back when I wrote Funeral Blues, it really cemented my germination routine for any lengthy writing. Something has to go bang. Almost literally. Big life event, death of acquaintance in this first case, happens; need to write sated. What comes out, grudgingly, haltingly, jerking, spitting, lurching, drunk, isn’t bad, but its also comprised of about 80 per cent lifted (or heavily ‘influenced’) material. So, are there truly no new ideas, or am I a thieving bastard?
First year university, I was watching a lot of Law & Order, Newsradio, Futurama, Star Trek reruns, and spinning my copies of Grosse Pointe Blank and High Fidelity into the ground. Knowing that, anyone who saw or read my play can now see a lot of cribbing. Well, from some of those at least (Thank God my tastes have evolved at least a little).
The short story, in second year creative writing, was about the only other thing of consequence to come out of these fingers in 25 years. Again, stolen fundamentally from other people (though Lauchie and Kezia would have a hard time proving it in court) and basically a fifty-fifty split of apeing Gaiman and Carver, it at least turned out a little better.
Lately, I’ve been listening to a lot — a LOT — of Old 97s. So we can pretty much guarantee that the next thing I write will feature a charming, rogueish loser, with a penchant for alt-country and dangerous women. It’ll probably be set in Texas.
I’ve never been to Texas.
The closest I’ve been is Orlando, Florida, and I mean that in both the geographic and spiritual senses of the word.
Also rattling around in my brain, pushing their way into ideas for stories — Grey’s Anatomy, Supernatural, Tristram Shandy, Lemony Snicket, Greg Graffin’s solo album, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, and Walt Disney comics of my youth. What in the hell is something pushed at by that much ridiculous diaspora going to look like? Would I, or anyone else, want to see that when it’s finished?
Do I let these things fight it out until a clear winner emerges, or just cave and write a spec script for something? I really don’t know if there’s a novel in me. I don’t think I could handle that much roughage.