In my last blog I talked about how three books, Writing the Breakout Novel, The Pilot’s Wife and The Lost Dog, have inspired me to start a new work.
I’m nearly ten thousand words in to the narrative now, but still at the stage where I’m not convinced that what I’m writing is right. I’m also not sure where I’m going with this story although I know what the ending is, but I guess that getting there is part of the fun. Only sometimes it’s not fun. Sometimes it’s hard because I have ideas of how I might get there, but I dither over whether they're the right way (which is what’s been happening to me this week). It’s kind of like navigating by intuition rather than by using a map. I worry I will come to a cul-de-sac (lovely word) or a dead end.
Anyway, last week, when I was only five or six three thousand words in, I met a friend for coffee at uni and as I was finding my way to a table, I passed two students. One of them had an open laptop on the coffee table and was looking at pictures of angel statues. I recognised the angels but I didn’t know where from. I stopped, mesmerised – rude of me, I know, to be perving over someone’s shoulder – and began to say excitedly, “Ooh, where did you get those?” and then straight after, as it dawned on me, “They’re from Dr Who, aren’t they?”
You’ll be pleased to know I apologised for not minding my own business. But luckily the girls were friendly and happy to share and talk Dr Who with me. But it gave me an idea for my narrative. One of those ideas where you ask yourself, Is that crazy or what? And most of the way through coffee with my friend and the meeting that followed, one half of my brain was obsessing with angel statues.
Just before I parted company with my friend I told her a little about the new work, but not the angels – I think I was still too unsure about them – and about how I wasn’t convinced I knew where I was going but that somehow this had to happen and that had to happen. She said it sounded fascinating and encouraged me to “keep writing”. She said I might become famous as an author who wrote “weird stories”. (I live in hope.)
When I got home I printed out a variety of angel statues, some are from the Dr Who episode, but others are beautiful and benign and are from graveyards and churches, and I’ve got them blu-tacked onto the wall in front of me for inspiration.
I’ve now written the first of the angels (there will be more) into the story, and I love it. Whether it’s right or not is debatable. Whether a reader will love it, is unanswerable. I won’t know that until I've typed The End, and edited and redrafted and so on, and given the story to someone to read. Until then, I have to trust myself.
The bottom line is inspiration can come from the oddest places.