Having almost completed the final draft of my second novel, I’ve been thinking about what I’ll write next, and have wondered how writers get their inspiration. There is an argument for closing off from the world, battening down the hatches and limiting outside influences in order to stimulate what’s inside, and preserve energy for that mammoth task of writing the next best thing, but we writers need to have material. Perhaps it’s also that I am bounding into my 40th year, and struggling with old habits of wanting to go out and live it up a little, and meet new people, while needing (and wanting) to wake up fresh faced and clear headed the next morning for my children in those precious moments when I am not consumed by writing. On the one hand, I’ve been there/done that, but I’m also not quite ready to let it go. Of course, it’s like life in general when you work and have kids, it’s all about moderation, and juggling, getting a little bit, not too much, of a good thing; but there are plenty of other ways in which we writers, spending a lot of time at the desk, can be inspired.
A writer friend on Twitter last night (contemplating his fourth novel) told me that he gets his inspiration from sitting watching Judge Judy while dressed in his pajamas (I suspect he was joking), and then, by chance, I got into a conversation on Facebook with a poet friend who spends the odd evening trawling through Mumsnet discussion forums. We got talking over this one – ‘I feel like I could stab him – over the washing-up’, and mid conversation, said poet threw in another gem: ‘Have Just Discovered DH Masturbating At The Dining Table!!’ And what rich images and characters these two simple sentences conjured in my mind, particularly as they both grew from a discussion between mums. Anyway, with my husband away on business and my children sleeping soundly upstairs, I spent my evening in a hilarious conversation on Facebook with said poet and another writer friend, who added some filthy stories into the mix (which involved wicker baskets and defecation, not involving him, I might add) and I laughed as much as I might have with the same people in any pub. Perhaps the anonymity of social media helps us take risks with our words, be braver than we would in person. And you can eat Matzos crackers while you’re typing, and wear your slippers, and when all worn out, you can crawl upstairs to bed, and happily be woken at the crack of dawn by an eager six-year-old.
I realized last night, perhaps for the first time, that social media is not all about wasting time. If you know where to look, the nosy spy in every author can find some great little pieces of inspiration. Hey, I’m already thinking about a story that involves wood stains and French Polishers, and ‘How Much Noise is “Normal” to Make During Sex”.