I believe that, as writers, we have trained our minds, opened them, widened them, attuned them, to be receptive to these ideas that flutter about in the aether. Inspiration is there for one and all, but we creatives are the ones who notice and care. However, sometimes the trick is knowing which idea is fluttering by to catch our attention, and which should be released back into the wild for another writer. Not every idea I've had is my story to write. It's taken me several ears as a writer, developing and honing my voice and themes, to know which ideas to cherish and which to pat on their head and send them back on their way.
New York Times Best Selling Author Jennifer Donnelly is here with us today to share some of the ideas she captured and coaxed into a story that became her newest release in the WaterFire Sage - Dark Tide. Be sure to check it out at the end of the post. And please share in the comments how you corral all your inspirations!
The Flows of Inspiration: A Craft of Writing Post by Jennifer Donnelly
Inspiration for DARK TIDE, and the entire WaterFire Saga, comes from some pretty strange places.
As anyone who’s been to one of my readings knows, one of the biggest was the work of the designer Alexander McQueen, but another mad genius who has also been a huge source of ideas is Rene Redzepi, the chef behind NOMA in Copenhagen, one of the world’s best and most out-there restaurants.
I’ve never eaten at NOMA, but I’ve seen photos of the food and I’ve read Redzepi’s diaries and notebooks. (The ones he’s published, I mean. I didn’t, like, sneak into his room or anything!) His insane drive to make things new, and the result of that drive—food so wild and fey that it should be served at a midnight feast for Loki—fed my imagination.
A piece of a character’s personality, a dress, a mermaid’s meal, a villain’s dark motivations or a witch’s bright ones – Redzepi’s work sparked ideas for these things and more. His reverence for this beautiful planet that provides the raw materials for his art renewed my own. And his ability to transform those materials—whether common or rare—reminded me that it was my duty to do the same.
A deer antler found in a southern swamp, a whelk’s shell discovered on Nantucket’s shores, a bird’s skull gleaned from my own fields—these things also helped me create the characters of DARK TIDE, and their world. So did the breath-taking jeweled scimitars, daggers, and headdresses of sultans on display in Istanbul’s Topkapi Palace, or the fearsome arms and armor in the collection of NYC’s Metropolitan Museum.
Poems by Mary Oliver and Sylvia Plath, and couplets by William Shakespeare, made me see anew the awesome power of water to give life, or transform it. Or end it.
Walking through marshes, or along the edge of ponds, lakes, and seas, never failed to spark a sense of wonder. I was struck silent so many times by small, quiet things—the impossible dynamics of a dragonfly’s flight, the metallic sparkle of a frog’s eyes, the artistry of a spider’s web. And by large, fierce ones—breakers crashing on the shore, a pair of humpback whales diving, a glacier in Iceland cracking and groaning.
I think that if I had a spirit creature, it would be the magpie – that greedy, indiscriminate, beady-eyed thief who snatches shiny bits and pieces and flies off with them in her claws, as happy with a piece of sea glass as she is with a diamond.
Writers: Where do you find your shiny sea glass pieces of inspiration?
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-- posted by Susan Sipal, @HP4Writers