Inspiration is strange. At best fleeting and unpredictable, at worst a minefield full of memory traps.
I remember a time back in my college days when I was sitting on a bus heading into lectures when the lyrics of a song began to come to me – I even began humming a tune to match as I created this song, and I knew it was good; I was literally shaking with excitement, not least because I didn’t even have a scrap of paper on me to write down the words and a bump in the road or screech of brakes might be enough to scare the willow the wisp of creation away. So I sat there, probably looking as if I was desperate to empty my bladder, as I rocked back and forth repeating my work of genius to myself over and over as the bus chugged its way up the hill towards campus.
As soon as the bus stopped I ran to the shop to buy a new pad on which to write down the lyrics, direct from my subconscious, between the pristine lines of the white paper. Pad in hand I headed straight for the library, lectures could wait. Finding a quiet corner I began to write, word after word spilling out to be scribbled down in feverish excitement on the page.
Make you cry
Make you break down
Shatter you illusions of love
Is it over now
Do you know how
To pick up the pieces and move on.
The rest of the day passed in a daze, I felt ten feet tall, as the strains of my magnum opus reverberated within.
It was not until I was on my way home and listening on the bus to the album Rumours by Fleetwood Mac on my Sony Walkman that I came back down to earth. But not until the very last song when Stevie Nicks began singing…
Did I realise that what I thought was my genius, was in fact a word for word copy of Gold Dust Woman by Fleetwood Mac; a great song, with great lyrics, but still I can’t listen to it without thinking it should have been mine.
I’ve had other moments like that over the years from creating Doctor Who, but without time travel, to coming up with the dance routines for Beyonce’s “Crazy in Love” video (though I think that is more of a recurring dream than any ability of mine to throw shapes on the dance floor).
I don’t think I’ve pressed send and posted anything on this blog yet, anything that was originally written by someone else, but it could happen as it is very crowded in my mind with stories and music and pictures too. And that is a very frightening thought when you are striving to be a writer, and an original one at that.
But isn’t it the fact that it was “Gold Dust Woman” that imprinted itself on my mind, as opposed to any other song, that gives me a chance of being original; or as an alternative to being original, then reinterpreting a genre through my own experiences. That is what will make my writing original the fact that I’m the only person to go out with the green eyed girl on April ninth 1996 or skin my knee and ruin my cowboy costume on that particular August day as a five year old.
I do know that another Stevie Nicks voiced Fleetwood Mac song started the process that led down the path towards the world described in Embers but that is just one of a myriad different influences music, film, book and even real life that fire the synapses into life.
It is the combination of all these experiences that gives me a distinctive voice, it doesn’t mean that that voice is worth listening to but they do make me who I am; for better or worse, a dreamer.
But not a writer, wandering about in a thunderstorm waiting for inspiration to strike doesn’t work, only hours spent over a keyboard or notebook do that and even then all you get is the bare bones and the beginnings, because that is when the real work begins.
You can find some of my influence over at Soundtracks but what about you all? What or who inspires you to write, paint, sculpt or simply to get up in the morning?
© 2015 | Frank Regan, All rights reserved.