by Douglas Clark
Everything has a story behind it. From the mundane to the truly profound, the things in our lives, the experiences, emotions, keepsakes, heirlooms, randomly collected junk cluttering our desks, to garbage have a story to tell. It’s often been asked where a writer gets his story ideas from. For me, that question is easy.
My stories come from my life. Since childhood, my imagination continually whisked me away off to previously unknown and unrealized places, full of adventure, excitement, joy, sadness, and revelation. Maybe it’s because I’ve always been a daydreamer, or maybe it’s because I’m discontent with the realities of life as they are, but when I look at things, I imagine the ‘what ifs’ that go with them. I’ve taken writing courses that preached the idea of following the ‘what if’ to their various conclusions; an idea I whole heartily endorse.
The most innocuous items in life can spawn the most incredible story ideas if you give them the opportunity to blossom and grow in your mind. I once saw a tricycle sitting alone in a park, the raindrops from the night before still clinging to it. My thoughts were one of wonder, ‘Why would the child leave his beloved tricycle? Was it because he needed to get out of the rain? Were his parents in a rush somewhere? Did someone die? Did he vanish?’ Although some of these thoughts might seem macabre, where those stories go is only limited by your willingness to let your imagination take over.
Another example of the mundane leading to the profound was when I sat staring at an old bar. The place stood abandoned and forgotten, the old neon Budweiser sign broken, bar stools tipped over, and broken glass protruded from the rotting window sills. I couldn’t help but be drawn to the stories of all the souls who entered that place to find a brief bit of solace from their toil, a jolt of vigor brought on by a mix of liquid spirits. What were they doing there? How long did they spend commiserating with their fellow bar flies? Did they all make it home? And how have they faired since their favorite watering hole fell into disarray? Try to answer any one of those questions and you have a plot, characters to live the tale, and a story to tell.
One of the best pieces of advice I received was this: “Write what you know, and tell the truth, until the story demands something different.” When you think about it, that makes sense. A lot of times, writers, poets, painters, musicians, they rack their brains trying to come up with something original. Well, excuse the conceit but I don’t think it’s possible to come up with something truly original. There have been far too many artists before us for such a thing. But, and this is big, I do believe I can come up with something truly unique from my own perspective. Think about it. Each one of our lives follows a certain course, and although events and experiences may be similar, we all live our lives from our own unique perspective. Put into the written word, we can all be authors of original and uniquely profound stories, born from our own view of life.
Though similar to others, you are unique, let your art reflect that and you’ll never lack for ideas and inspiration.
Thanks for reading.
Questions and comments are welcome.
About the Author
Douglas Clark is a writer, editor, blogger, artist, and novelist. After going to college, traveling the world thanks to the navy, and being a single parent, he’s learned to appreciate life and what it has to offer. For him, writing is a passion, one which he will continue to pursue until The End.
Visit Douglas' blog: http://theinspirationengine.blogspot.com/
Connect with him on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/theinspirationengine?ref=hl