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This is what I think about inspiration: that it happens all the time. We have these tiny spark moments where we think, “What if…” or “I wonder what that would be like?” Sometimes I see new books on the table at Barnes & Noble and think, “How weird. Here’s an author who must wonder the same things I do.”
Now there’s a scary thought.
So inspiration is happening all the time. But what I think people are really asking when they ask about inspiration is how you fan those sparks into something that can become a story. Read the rest of this entry »
I know what you’re thinking, “That real life soap opera show where they leave a handful of schmucks to fight for a million bucks and give them nothing to eat except stale rice, bugs and cows’ brains?” No, I mean the ingenious social experiment that gives daring contesters the chance to find out what they’re made of by isolating them and stripping them of all but the barest of necessities. (Okay, so maybe they are the same show.)
Survive or Die
Some concepts inspire me by their very nature. One I keep coming back to again and again, packaged in different wrappers, is the idea of a survivor story. Remember Cast Away where Tom Hanks had to endure four years on a deserted island with only a few (strategically written) random items in Fed Ex boxes? Or Life of Pi – the story about the boy adrift for weeks (or months?) on a lifeboat with limited survival gear and a ferocious tiger aboard his vessel? There are even similarities in the true story of Aron Ralston, the climber who got trapped under a boulder in a tight canyon and was forced to amputate his own arm with a pocket knife.
I like stories that make me dig deep inside myself and search for the extent of my own capabilities. How would I survive if I had to capture my own food? What could I do with a pair of ice skates and a broken piece of a porta-potty? Could I sever my own arm if I had to? The last one may be a little extreme, but these kind of stories make my mind reel in excitement because they force me to explore the depths of my own creativity (aka ability to solve extreme problems by unconventional means).
How Creative Am I?
We’ve built this cushy life with all of our creature comforts and techno gadgets that we’d never ever dream of giving up, but somehow… Sometimes there’s still that desire for raw human challenges that creep into our fantasies and end up in our books and movies and news stories. The ironic thing is that for me, if I peel back all those layers, it seems to all come back to creativity. When pushed, when forced by necessity, how creative could I be?