Sunday, February 14, 2010

Inspiration's Where You Find It

This has been a decidedly strange week in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. We've set the record for the most snowfall in a 24 hour period with over 15 inches of the white stuff hitting the ground, followed closely by tree limbs, branches and, well, entire trees. At one point, almost 250,000 homes and businesses were without power. Despite temperatures in the 40's yesterday, there is still snow on the roofs in in shaded areas. You'd think someone, somehow moved DFW further north and didn't tell us.

Of course, the snow with all its attendant problems hit just before all the NBA All-Star activities were scheduled to start at Jerry World (for those not familiar with Jerry World, it's also known as the new Dallas Cowboys Stadium.) There were a lot of nervous city and business leaders worried that all their money and hard work getting ready for the activities would be all for naught. But this being Texas, the impact was minimal...so far.

Not to be outdone or forgotten, the Olympics began this week as well. Wonderful opening ceremonies, marred by a 4 minute technical difficulty toward the end. Team USA won 4 medals (1 gold, 1 silver and 2 bronze) last night. I held my breath with others across the nation as the Koreans made their move in one of the men's speed skating short track events, wondering if they'd push Apolo Anton Ohno out of contention. Then there was the crash and Ohno came through unscathed, capturing the silver medal, tying him with Bonnie Blair for the most medals won by any athlete in the Winter Olympics.

The cap on the week's news was learning that one of the major freeways here had been closed down last night when local police received a tip about a "suspected terrorist". Fort Worth and Arlington police gave chase and the suspect(s) finally crashed out. Before the police could move in, she told them there might be a bomb in her car. The freeway was closed for hours and now, more than eight hours after I heard the first report, there still isn't much information coming out about what happened other than the fact the freeway is open and the suspects aren't terrorists. Still, unconfirmed reports from one of the local TV stations say that one of the suspects has been arrested on several occasions -- once for hanging around one of the local airports not too long after 9/11 while dressed in camos and looking suspicious and making a lot of folks very nervous and another time for brandishing a hand grenade (which later turned out not to be live) at another driver in a road rage incident. She is on the record being against the war.

So what, you ask, does all this have to do with writing? A couple of things. The first is the easiest to identify. All of this has been a distraction -- a very big distraction -- to writing. I wanted to play in the snow. Then I had to cut up the huge limb that fell out of our pine tree out front. And shovel/sweep the front walk. And scratch my head and try to figure out what a person is supposed to do besides play when you have that much snow at one time. This is Texas. It takes years to get a foot of snow, not hours. As for the rest of it, well, there's this evil invention call the television. Or at least to me during the Winter Olympics and, yes, when there might be a terrorist in my backyard.

But there is something more important in all this. Each of these incidents is fodder for the creative juices. The Ohno silver medal race can now be the background of a scene...complete with guys yelling and screaming as the two Korean skaters go down and he skates past them to the finish line. Popcorn flying through the air on his qualifying round as he goes from last place to first, seeming to simply teleport to do so (hat tip to Chris K. for that image).

Then there's the incident last night. I am intimately familiar with where the suspect's car crashed and the freeway was shut down. I've been stuck in traffic there more times than I want to count. I could imagine being caught in the two mile backup and then hearing on the radio why the road is closed and not being able to get off. What would go through your mind as you sat there, wondering if -- should there be a bomb and should it go off -- you're far enough away to survive? Or what if you're sitting at home and you get the call from your husband or wife or child? Even now, as I sit typing this entry, I wonder why the police aren't giving up more information if, as the one TV station alluded to last night, this wasn't a terrorist they stopped but just a local crazy.

From all this, I have a lot of seeds of inspiration floating around in my head. I know at least a couple of them will find their way into something I write. It may be as a background or a passing scene, but it will be there. And that's cool -- at least to me.

So, where do you find your inspiration? Has anything happened this week in your life that you can use as fodder for a story idea?

20 comments:

Sarah A. Hoyt said...

More importantly, in real life none of those incidents has any connection to each other. In a book they would have. Assignment: try to come up with a plot that integrates ALL of them.

Amanda Green said...

I have one thing to say to you, Sarah: "THPPPPPPT!" You've already infected me with too many dueling plots as it is -- and, yes, now I'll have Dueling Banjos playing in my head all day -- to let you get away with this one as well.

Oh, all right, quit glaring. I'll do it. I'll do it. Mumble, grumble.

But hey, if you get to give me that assignment, I get to pass it on to others. Hear that, Chris K? Guess what youe assignment is [VBEG]

matapam said...

What's happened here? Well, rain and cold all winter, occasionally enlived by snow or a freeze. There were even a few sunny days, but not enough of anything to overcome the overwhelming impression of cold sloppy mud everywhere. I have horses - they create quagmire in these conditions. The paddock might amusing place to tackle some villains. Mud wrestling. Thank you. I now have an instantaneous creation of an absolutely charming Bad Guy and the lady police officer who is _not_ charmed. Really. Not. All I need is a story . . .

C Kelsey said...

Now wait just a minute, Amanda! Just because I was taking a break from writing to put images of teleporting speed skaters in your head does not mean you can... *Sigh* I'll see what I can come up with. :)

Amanda Green said...

Matapam, who gets to use the lady cop's handcuffs after the mud wrestling, or during, or....oh, wait, I really don't want to go there ;-p

I'll add another dimension to your scenario. Weather control. After all, Texas isn't supposed to have weather like this. (And I will NOT get into whether or not there is any validity to the arguments for or against global warming/global climate change). Maybe your absolutely charming bad guy has done business in the past with the evil mastermind....

Okay, crawling back into the kitchen in search of more coffee before I get too silly here.

Amanda Green said...

Chris K, this is what you get for planting such ideas in my head. And I'll throw in another aspect for you to consider. Remember O'Mike's fb post about how there's a freeway in the Boston area that seems to be dividing line for weather. Why? And what would happen if that invisible line becomes tangible and you're caught on the wrong side of it? Hmmmm?

Yes, I'm evil. I admit it. Heck, I relish in it. Bwahahahaha

C Kelsey said...

So what we have going on is a competition between sports venues and broadcast stations. NBC was worried that it would loose almost 200 million dollars on the Olympic broadcast to pre-basketball game shows on ESPN. So NBC, being an evil american corporation, activated their evil weather weapon and smacked Dallas with a foot of snow. They then compounded this by taking speed skating and teleporting mutant, Apolo Ohno, and publicly showed him teleporting to the lead of his event (but nobody realized that he physically teleported because people only see what they expect to see -- which was a really good pass in this case).

The car chase with what may have been a bomb in it was the NBA trying to get to the NBC evil weather control station and destroy it so that the basketball game wasn't interrupted. The cops chasing the car clearly worked for NBC. The driver of the car probably worked for Fox News. ;)

As for the highway here in MA, that was a red herring. The highway is really just the marine layer boundary. :P

Stephen Simmons said...

The weather control was clearly employed by the Koreans, not NBC. They diverted snow that should have fallen in Vancouver to Texas because they wanted to disrupt the national spectacle of the capitalists in Canada, to keep them from making the Worker's Paradise of North Korea look bad.

Of course NBC, being a subsidiary of Jeff Immelt's empire, went along with the plan, since it would enable then to show a Canada with so little snow that some needed to be trucked in, dovetailing nicely with their incessant "Green Week" propagandizing efforts.

The "leak" of the teleporting technology was a subtle, coded message to Iran, in response to their pronouncement earlier this week that they are now a "nuclear power", warning them of our new capability of delivering weapons to any desired target without violating the sovereign airspace of their neighbors ...

Amanda Green said...

Ah, but both of you gentlemen are forgetting the mad mastermind behind all things Cowboys and imminent domain -- Jerry Jones. It's his evil plot to prevent people from leaving Arlington and the night's All-Star activities AND to garner enough influence bring the summer AND winter Olympics to Texas. After all, we have warm summers, perfect for outdoor sports and now we have snow in the winter, excellent for all those skiing and skating competitions. Can you think of any better mad, if not evil -- and that's debatable in some areas down here -- genius? ;-p

C Kelsey said...

Yes, Amanda. I can think of someone madder and evil-er. Bill Belichick. Evil I tell you!

Amanda Green said...

I give, Chris. You're right. The stealer of signals and who knows what else is more evil. But only just. :-)

RJ_CruzeJr said...

Inspiration most often seems to strike best when I'm farthest away from my PC and have forgotten the little notebook I usually keep with me for situations just like this :-D

Rowena Cory Daniells said...

Living in sub tropical Queensland, the picture of your snow laden tree looks so exotic.

Chris McMahon said...

For the SF sort of thing, I get a lot of inspiration from reading topical science non-fiction - the sort of 'boundaries of science' thing. I'll often get a 'Ahhh. What if. . . ?' out of that.

Inspiration for setting usually comes from travel, for example when I see some really inspiring landscape. I also often get ideas for contemporary fantasy when I am out in the bush.

The heroic fantasy stuff seems to just emerge from my own head somehow. I'll get an idea for a character or a situation - or for magic :) - and go from there.

Amanda Green said...

Bob, I know that feeling very well. I now have pad and pencil in the car and in most every room in the house. I can take notes on my cell phone -- I don't because I refuse to use it as anything but a phone, but I can. But I can also take notes on my Kindle, I just have to remember which book I've added the note to so I can export it to the computer when I get home. The ability to take free-standing notes on the Kindle is the app I'll put on it once it's available.

Amanda Green said...

Rowena, I'll trade you. That shot was taken when we still had only about 5 or 6 inches on the ground. By the time we got the rest of the 12 inches plus, the tree looked very sad, with all the bending branches, straining not to snap. I'm still cleaning up from those that did. Considering I have the fireplace going right now, I'd love to be in sub tropical Queensland right now.

Amanda Green said...

Chris, I get a lot of my inspiration the same way you do. However, there are times -- like this past week -- when real life just seems to scream "I'm a farce. You need to write me!"

However, I will admit that a story is bubbling in the back of my head, inspired by a few of the incidents I've referenced happening this week. We'll see if anything actually comes from it.

Chris McMahon said...

Hi, Amanda. Good luck with the story. Cheers,

Kate said...

When life slows down enough, I'm sure I'll have plenty. Right now I'm still on mad-scramble-to-keep-up interspersed with computer games to keep me from complete fry-out with intermittent periods of virtual and actual unconsciousness masquerading as sleep.

Weekends are NOT long enough.

matapam said...

Amanda,

Surely a were-cougar policewoman can do something with an attempt to bomb the All Stars Game in the middle of a howling blizzard. The only question is, do you want the storm to be what derails the plot, or artificially caused as part of the plot?

My son just drove here from Denton, trying to fit inbetween storms. He tells me a rainstorm turned all that pretty snow to muddy slush. So, you too can imagine mudwrestling - although any sort of were-cougar won't enjoy it a bit. Perhaps you need a comedic side kick for that part.