Thursday, March 6, 2014

Inspiration: Science and Dreams

Since my weekly reading was weak (see what I did there?) I will post something I did for Cabinet of Curiosities this week--kind of like when I used to use my anthropology papers for psychology in college, half the work, twice the grade. It didn't work out that well sometimes, but hey, I can handle a B now and then.

The Cabinet will be discussing writing inspiration during the month of march so if you want to hear these wonderful writers' thoughts, check it out.

Anyone who creates anything needs inspiration. Flying inspired the Wright brothers, Lisa inspired Da Vinci, and a tower inspired Eiffel.

In March, the Cabinet is going to post about our writing inspiration. It's true that writers are inspired by anything and everything, and even the idea that maybe none of it really exists at all. Obviously there's no way we can cover every inspiration. But my personal favorites thus far have been science and dreams.

I love learning about current discoveries and inventions and pondering the what-ifs. Science headlines this very day are these:

Giant Virus Resurrected from Permafrost after 30,000 Years
This 500-Pound Metal Suit Can Take Humans To New Ocean Depths
Scientists Can Now Control Flies' Brains With Lasers

At first glance these articles might seem to lend themselves only to science fiction, but that depends on where your what-ifs take you. Sure, to a writer, that virus could turn into a pandemic and an insecure biophysicist's mad race to cure it. But it could just as easily become the story of a family who escapes the crisis by living in the remnants of a beached submarine and focus on relationships, claustrophobia, and the meaning of life.

That's the point of inspiration. It sparks the story you will write, but you are the one that builds the fire, and fans the flames.

I'm currently working on a novel called Prophecy about a newly called priestess of the sun who becomes the target of a murderous conspiracy. It's not science fiction but the idea hatched from a news story announcing that the fault lines under the Temple of Delphi in Greece were proven to release actual hallucinogens. This led to my own research. The Oracle was in operation anciently for centuries; she turned the tide of wars, democracy, and even wielded authority over kings. Neighboring lands gave great tribute to these women making them wealthy and free in a misogynistic society. How did this sacred sisterhood pull it off? Did they believe in their powers of perception, and if not, what were they really up to?

So, yeah. Science. It inspires me.

I know it may seem trite after Stephanie Meyer, but if you're a colorful dreamer, you have an ocean of inspiration to explore. I don't have much to say here other than if a scene or an emotion or a character pops up in a dream that you would like to get to know better, by all means do it. Explore the idea. It may melt into nothing, or it may turn into a novel. Both have happened for me.

Other novels inspired by dreams? Misery, by Stephen King; Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley; Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, by Robert Louis Stevenson; and Jonathan Livingston Seagull, by Richard Bach. The subconscious (or wherever dreams come from) is a powerful force. (I stole this list of books from here.)

Whatever inspires you, make sure you want to stare at it, analyze it, and live with it for a very long time because inspiration is just the beginning. Faith will carry you through the long haul to completion...but that's probably a topic for another blogpost.

Weak Weekly Reading

Once again, not so good on the weekly reading--not that I didn't try. I picked up and put down three books but I just couldn't get into any of them, even after giving them a chance for a few days. They are apparently wonderful books and well reviewed, but I am weird. Now you know.

I have three lovely new novels sitting on the library shelf in front of me waiting to be devoured so hopefully that will work out better. One of them is highly recommended by Becca Fitzpatrick (not even on the front cover, but in private conversation at a bookstore where we were ushered to the special "edgy books" section), another is recommended by Pat Esden who I believe is friends with the bestselling author, and one is by Louis Sachar, and how can I not try it out? I love his book Holes, and The Boy in the Girls' Bathroom. And I will check out a bunch of picture books too, before I leave.

No, I won't tell you what books I didn't like. Those authors actually wrote books, finished them, published them, got great reviews from Kirkus (for example), and don't deserve any criticism from me. They're books that definitely deserved to be published, they just don't meet my entertainment needs at this time.