While some people would dress men in women’s clothing for inspiration… *whistles innocently* (the Dutch believed it was improper for women to pose so they put men in dresses--silly Dutchies *winks at Dutch friends*)--this painting is at Kelvington Art Gallery in Glasgow--don't remember the artist, only the adam's apple.
I suppose I occasionally get ideas when I’m not naked, but not very often. At least 70% of my really great fresh ideas happen when I am in the bath or shower. Granted, I do most of my writing in the bath, so that OUGHT to be when the ideas come, but the fresh ones aren’t typically while I am writing. The writing of them is a transference process. The latest one came while I was READING. I am reading Keith Donohue’s book ‘The Stolen Child’ and Aniday received ‘for Christmas’ four letters (stolen from mailboxes and not addressed to him at all). The idea touched me--the reading of someone else’s letters, and the fantasy that can be created around something so simple.
It took me to a new character--a runaway, who was struggling, but surviving, but really craving a deep connection, who begins stealing letters, identifying a forbidden love that she ends up deeply involved with on an emotional level… I've been writing this girl’s back story and running away experience.
That is the naked inspiration of the experience.
But there is another side of this--the integration experience. And it only just occurred to me last night (while I was naked) that the fresh ideas come while naked, but the integration of those ideas into other projects I am working on, happens while my body is active and my mind is free--exercising. On a power walk yesterday morning, Athena (so named by her addict mom who was trying to be clever), finally slid into one of my other WiPs.
I have long known that I got my ideas either while naked, or while exercising, but it hadn’t occurred to me until now that the kinds of inspiration were very different. The relaxation of the bath (or dreams, actually--also naked) are fresh new ideas, and the free association that happens when my heart is pumping, I am sweating, and my muscles are moving, is more a matter of weaving together of things that were already there.
CONFLUENCE was originally conceived as a nameless book about a five-year-old little girl whose family moved into a house by an urban woods. Hannah (she was always Hannah) makes friends with a homeless man who lives in the woods behind their house. Homeless man proceeds to get blamed for some things because he’s an easy target. THAT was the idea I sat with for literally YEARS until she-who-shall-remain-nameless *cough*Natasha*cough* suggested I really should writing something completely original.
The seeds were born slowly for the split community--scientific versus religious--probably all the stem-cell political stuff about 5 years ago wrestled in (read: annoyed) my brain, but it seemed very distant because Ann Arbor is NOT split. We are a solidly liberal and scientific town where it’s easy to forget the whole world doesn’t think the same way. But on one of these power walks it occurred to me just how well a split community, a college town with some academic and a lot of religious (not perhaps unlike Moscow, Idaho, where I grew up) would make an extremely interesting backdrop for this story.
So I suppose if you’re feeling your mojo needs a jump start, what I am recommending, is get naked and get some exercise!