Friday, June 3, 2011

Inspiration and Imagination--It Takes Two to Tango

INSPIRATION is the inhaling of the memory of an act never experienced. ~ Ned Rorem

IMAGINATION is the liquid solution in which art develops the snapshots of reality ~ Cyril Connolly

~In the June issue of THE WRITER, Bharti Kirchner used these quotes to begin the cover article "The Germ of an Idea." The quotes captured my heart and mind immediately. They're the perfect definitions of two important concepts that fuel our creative forces. The article continues with sixteen published writers of fiction and nonfiction describing how inspiration and imagination have worked in their careers. From Sue Grafton and Elizabeth George to Greg Bear and Elizabeth Lyon, these writers open a window into their process.

~After I read the article, I couldn't help it. I had to peel apart the inspiration and imagination that sparked the two works-in-progress (WIP) that I work on the most. I thought I'd share.

~It may sound like a cliche, but the inspiration for this WIP did come to me in a very vivid dream. In March 2008, I woke from a morning nap (no comments, please ; ) with this image in my mind--A eleven or twelve-year-old girl leaned against a low stage in a crowded church fellowship hall. Her golden curls framed a fully made-up face, complete with eyeshadow, liner, and mascara. I looked out of the eyes of an older woman whose heart was immediately hooked by what was obviously a child in pain. I had no clue who they were, what had happened, or why they were in a room full of little children. It didn't matter. The image stayed with me all day as I completed a long list of errands. The story unfolded as I went from one job to the next. By nightfall, I knew the woman's name and that she was a recently widowed, retired teacher with no children of her own. The girl was an abused foster child named Samantha and the children in the room were all foster children. That's all it took to launch my contemporary, mainstream novel, FRIENDLY FIRE.

~This story's  origins may be even stranger than the one above. I've read science fiction for decades. It's a genre both John and I love, so it's not really surprising that I have a SF WIP. What makes it surprising is that I have no background in science. My field is history. The story is based on the life of a thirteenth century French queen. Really. ; ) My master's thesis is a biography of Blanche of Castile. Her life was full of the political intrigue and family drama that characterizes the Medieval history of England, France, and Spain. Her maternal grandparents were Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine and she married Louis (VIII) "the Lion" Capet. Their son, Louis IX, is now known as Saint Louis. My WIP takes Blanche's life story and translates it into the life of Princess Canda Aurora of Shardonia. With near light-speed travel and tachyon pulse communications, my three planets interact much like Medieval Europe's England, France, and Spain--with a few changes along the way. I think Canda's story has great potential, but don't hold your breath--I've worked on this one for over twenty-five years.

~I'd love to know what fuels your WIPs. Where do you get your inspiration and what spurs your imagination?