People always ask writers the wrong question. They want to know “where do you get your ideas?” And we respond with answers that we believe might make some sense to the non-writer.
Because we can’t speak the truth of it.
Because the truth would reveal the subtle lunacy of our thoughts. Honesty would open those hidden cluttered closets and toy boxes of our mind. The ones filled with the images, voices, and scenery that aren't reality's reflection, but just shadows of the world or perhaps ourselves. Imaginary places, times, and people that someday may come together and form the worlds we create between the Once Upon a Time and The End.
Because the truth would reveal~
We hear the voices of make believe people. We see things that have never happened but feel no less real.
At first, the chatter rises like that of a busy promenade—an alien yet a familiar place of possibilities. The disparate voices speaking over one another, images falling into new images, landscapes, buildings, cities, towns, of this world and others, all rising and falling. Villains and heroes, friends and lovers, moving like ghosts, each asking: "what if?"
And then, sometimes, a few will speak clearer than the others. Their “what if” more intriguing than the rest.
“I know how to create this place," we respond, and a particular scene coalesces.
“It starts here,” we think . . . or . . . “it ends here” . . . or perhaps . . . “this one has a story worth the tell.”
And from that single point, the words begin to flow—sometimes forward, sometimes backward, but it is no matter because there is something in that particular "there." Something beautiful and meaningful.
The music has begun, and it will be beautiful if we can find our dance partner~
That elusive mistress of words that will move with us through the next eighty thousand or so. And we want to dance…so badly. If only to make sense of this "what if," if only to make sense of these thoughts for our reader, if only to make sense of it for ourselves.
But even that is only the smallest part of it. That is simply process. The “what if?”, the idea that longs for “the end.”
The idea is vague. It is the beginning of something that feels like inspiration; the way a lovely woman's smile feels like a spring day. The way the smell of rain brings back childhood memories. The way an empty journal brings hope and possibility.
Still, the idea alone is not the inspiration. Like that fleeting smile and the fragrant yesterday wind, there are many ideas. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of plots and characters in the writer’s mind. And we only have time to dance with a few of them in our lifetime.
No, the idea is not the story. And the story is not the reason we write. The real inspiration is never truly the "when I was young" or "I had this dream." These are not the things that bring us back to pen and keyboard. These are not the reasons we collect all those blank journals.
“Where do these ideas come from?” is not the important question.
The idea is not inspiration.
The only question of importance and substance is~
"What inspires you to write?"
The Muse does.
She is a seductive creature dressed in the black lace of possibilities. In her embrace, an intricate and intimate dance of words, thoughts, and emotions. On her lips, an unquenchable passion that seeks rhythm in the verse. Her breath, the promise of creation.
The words, an intoxicating mistress.
The Muse, an impish and impetuous lover.
If we can guide her, if we can make her laugh, cry, fear, and love then she will dance with us until the end. On her laughter, our heroes will rise. On her tears, they will fall. On her soft gasps, the plot turns and in her bright smile, the story finds light and life.
But she can be impatient and unforgiving, and if we falter in our dance, she will depart. She will leave us in the wake of her cold smirk. The one that taunts: You are not yet ready for me.
The story means nothing to her.
There are thousands of them.
The Muse cares only for the passion of the dance, only for the sweet intimacy of the embrace. The whirling rhythms of emotion in light and dark that move her across the dance floor. And the Muse dances only with those who fully love her.
Without her, there are only ideas and words strung together. Symbols of sounds without emotions. In her absences, all that exists are dull, gray worlds constructed in the imitations of another's dance. Without her, the story is no more than a stale photo, a still image without color and without the passion required to be a real and living thing.
The Muse is the inspiration. Our works are the temples and shrines for her to dance. Our words are songs for her to sing. Our love for her, a thing that has always existed—a thing that will always be. The dance, an unquenchable desire to again embrace her.
“Where do you get your story ideas?”
In a far off place where she whispers, "Dance with me again."
Yes, my love . . . always.
By Raymond Esposito
Raymond Esposito is an award-winning dark fiction author and Amazon bestseller. His articles and interviews have appeared in a variety of publications including Family Circle and Sanitarium Magazine. He has a degree in Cognitive Psychology and has spent over 28 years as a criminal behaviorist.