It’s true, I admit it. I have a bit of an overactive imagination, or as Kristen Lamb says ‘you could write for Days of our Lives’. But where does all our imagination and inspiration come from? How does one invent characters and stories that merit the time spent putting pen to paper or fingers to keyboard?
Sure, like every other author and writer looking for inspiration, I scan newspaper headlines and read magazine articles. I am guilty of using, on occasion, subway advertising, music videos, lyrics’ in songs and scenes in already made movies. I am forever jotting down notes and ideas in the little note pad I carry with me wherever I go. Doesn’t every writer?
But have you ever just watched people? I mean really, really watched them? No matter where you are, the reality is there will always be people around you. Train stations, airports, supermarkets, waiting in line for Disney’s Space Mountain, the toilet (yeah, you know who you are). People are fascinating. The way they act or what they say to each other. The tattoos they support or the jewellery they wear. Are they louder than a tornado warning or quieter than the annoying mouse you know is under the floorboards but refuses to come out until everyone is asleep? Everything about them screams out character: your character if you apply just a little imagination.
I was recently travelling home from London when a guy boarded the train and sat down opposite me. He was, I assumed, a tramp. The underneath of his nails were dirty, and I mean black dirty, his shoes were worn through and his clothes stained and crumbled. His face was covered by greasy hair and an overgrown beard, but his eyes were the bluest eyes I had ever seen in my life. I was mesmerised. I could not look away. Take all the griminess away, give him a good shower and I imagined he would have been absolutely gorgeous. We are talking Richard Armitage gorgeous. He had everything going for him. He was well over six foot, good build from what I could tell beneath his clothes and it got me to thinking….who was this guy? What had happened in his life for him to be sitting in a train carriage on the central line, looking the way he did? Could he have a family, a wife, or any children? Had he previously worked and if so, in what profession? Did he choose to live his life like this or was it beyond his control? Had someone close to him died and, in his distraught state, had not noticed his life draining away until it was too late……or, at the other end of the spectrum, was he undercover and working for MI5 or 6? If trouble broke out would he suddenly turn into James Bond and save the day? Or was he a secret millionaire, fed up with money hungry women and actually looking for the love of his life, who would love him for him and not the money he had in his bank account.
The latter ideas, probably not, but hey, in imagination land anything is possible, isn’t it?