It’s February and there’s another WriYe blog circle topic.
What inspires you?
The question ‘what if?’ more than anything to be honest. I mean we don’t like in a vacuum right? So it’s not that controversial to say we’re influenced by everything we interact with. However, it’s probably a bit controversial to say that I follow the maxim of “stealing ideas without actually stealing them”. You see I get inspired when I love something and in general terms I take what I love and make it my own.
For instance I’ll watch something and they’ll be one aspect which makes me go “hello!” and this can be anything but for the ease of this example I’ll go with a relationship. Anyone remember Alias? Jack Bristow and Irina Derevko intrigued me and I knew I wanted to do something with that. In broad strokes they are spies for opposing agencies, Irina seduced Jack to spy on him long term and then committed the cardinal sin of falling in love with her mark (or so I saw it) – it was a tragic love story.
Now I messed around with this and I think I wrote 4 or 5 drafts of a story I called Perfidy. I altered a lot of details, introduced a ton more characters, obviously the main plot was my own. First draft was two years after the betrayal I think, and they had to work together to stop a nuclear bomb? and had to face their feelings because dammit even after everything they still loved one another. One of the later drafts was twenty years later, they had reunited long before and left the spy business, but they got pulled back in by this billionaire who wanted revenge for his brothers death.
As you can probably tell this example didn’t actually succeed in a draft I was ever happy with. However, a few years back I wrote a short story using the same concept. It was set in space, on a sci-fi world where there were two warring factions. I like that angle a lot better to be honest because it avoids messy Earth politics. Then I decided that would work well if I meshed it with some nebulous thoughts of a series I was developing at the time. So two warring factions on a planet, have now become two warring worlds, and there’s also a third enemy and then people from Earth show up (there’s a lot going on).
So I guess what I’m trying to say is I don’t think there’s any harm in wanting to play with what is effectively a trope. Rival spies who fall in love and there’s betrayal and stuff is hardly an Alias exclusive. Jack and Irina inspired me but stripping it back to basics means I made it my own, and maybe one day Galaxy of Fire will be a thing.
How do you hold onto that inspiration through less-than-inspiring times?
I try and remember what made me love the idea in the first place, what the spark was that made me go “hmm yes it’s going to be you” and pushed me to develop the story.
Honestly though this is a hard question because holding onto inspiration isn’t easy. Sometimes I feel an outpouring of love but quite often I want to burn my drafts in fire. Writing is hard. Inspiration is fleeting, I try and focus on discipline. That often fails too but “butt in chair” is a phrase for a reason you know?
Is inspiration different than motivation for you?
Continuing from the last question because it sort of blends together. Yeah inspiration and motivation are different for me. As I said inspiration is often fleeting, and hard to pin down. It’s the bubble of “ooooh” I get when the story idea first strikes, or when I have a breakthrough when planning and details start to fall into place. The whole story then sort of spreads out in front of me and I bask in all the glorious potential.
Once I start writing inspiration often vanishes. Like I said I try and remember why I was keen on the story in the first place, but really the actual writing is all about perseverance. Motivation is always there because I do want to finish stuff, I really really do. Sometimes I think it seems like I’m not motivated because I don’t do things but that really isn’t true. I’m not doing things because of my mental health, not because I lack the desire to do them. I always want to write and complete my projects, it’s just reality isn’t that easy.