In my lounge today, is Julie Hayes. We are drinking a nice blend of English tea, while sampling my yummy, freshly made for the occasion, breakfast muffins.
Julie was reading at the age of two and writing by the age of nine and always wanted to be a writer when she grew up. Two marriages, five children, and more than forty years later, that is still her dream. She blames her younger daughters for introducing her to yaoi and the world of M/M love, a world which has captured her imagination and her heart and fueled her writing in ways she'd never dreamed of before. She especially loves stories of two men finding true love and happiness in one another's arms and is a great believer in the happily ever after. She lives in St. Louis with two of her children and two cats, loves books and movies and role playing on the Internet, and hopes to be a world traveler some day. By day she does payroll and accounting, by night she writes and is also a copy editor and reviewer for comicsonline.com. Her family thinks she is a bit off, but she doesn't mind. Marching to the beat of one's own drummer is a good thing, after all. She is also the Director of Yaoi and Fantasy, as well as a copy editor and reviewer at AnimeRadius.com.
Today she wants to talk about what inspires her to write. As usual, any new followers will go into a draw to win a gift from me, so do leave your email in the comment box.
Thank you so much, Margaret, for inviting me, I’d love to taste some of your favorite tea, sounds lovely. I hope I don’t ramble on too long and bore your readers to death, but I wanted to talk to them about inspiration, if I may.
When Inspiration Calls, Be Sure to Pick UP
Someone asked me once, did I have a muse. I’d never been asked that question before, so I had to stop and think. I write, therefore I must have a muse, right? I’ve never called it that, and I don’t have a clear picture of what this muse may or may not look like as some people do. A friend told me her muse is six foot and blond. Sounds great, I should have one of those for myself. I suspect if I did have one, and if he did have a face, he would look like Gary Oldman. But I also think another name for a muse is simply inspiration. And inspiration doesn’t have one look, it has many, and many voices. But I have learned one thing in my many years of writing—when Inspirations calls, be sure to pick up or you may miss out on something important.
Ever have a flash of something when you’re not in a position to write it down? I think we all have, because frankly it’s when you’re not trying to think of new ideas that inspiration is most likely to strike. In the shower, in your car, at a concert or movie, maybe even when you’re having sex—any time or place that isn’t quite conducive to stopping and jotting a few notes on paper so you’ll retain them. I think that this happens because of the left brain/right brain thing. And my theory also deals with writer’s block and how to handle that. I can honestly say I seldom get writer’s block and when I do, I take care of it and make it go away. In my head, at least, these two situations are connected.
You have a practical side and you have a creative side. It’s when you’re doing practical things like showering, driving, laundry, whatever, that your creative side is free to come out because you’re not calling on it to do something, so there’s no pressure there. I have two ways of dealing with writer’s block, depending on my mood or what I perceive to be the cause. Sometimes I do something as simple as play cards on the computer, engaging my practical brain. Or I’ve been known to do some free association word games—write words on a piece of paper (or on the computer, whichever you’re using), and don’t try to make sense of them, just write. Eventually the words become sentences and then becomes ideas. Or my other method is to read something or watch something, and fill up the empty spaces in order to draw on them for creative purposes.
But as I was saying, there are times when you can’t do that right away. I learned early on that if I let the words I hear rattle through my brain, I’ll lose them. When I go to write t hem down, they’ve disappeared into the ether of my creative brain, never to be retrieved again, gone like so many wisps of smoke. Why? Because they didn’t imprint, they came they went and I didn’t get to keep them. Like the dream you had where you thought of the greatest novel ever, and you were sure when you woke you would capture it, but surprise, you couldn’t cause it never made it into the part of your brain that retains that stuff. In those situations, here’s what I do. At least in the waking ones, I’ve given up on dreams and just hope those ideas recirculate in my head at some point. I take the words and fix them in an image and imprint them in my brain—like making a macro of them. I hold on to them until I’m in a position to deal with them, and then, oh then, let them please spill forth unto my anxious fingers.
Even more, though, I want to talk about the inspiration which you don’t immediately recognize as inspiration—the voices in your head which make you wonder at first if you’re just plain crazy. I’ve ignored those before and been sorry, so now when I hear a voice and it’s talking, and I suspect it’s a character trying to come out, I’m listening.
A few years ago, I was working on a book about composer Percy Grainger (which I’m embarrassed to admit I’ve never done anything), and a voice began to talk to me. He said he was a gay werewolf. That’s all. A gay werewolf. But I could feel him, somehow, and he seemed nice and interesting, so I politely told him that I would get to him, once my other book was done. But he kept talking, like he was just very anxious for me to write about him, so finally, to placate him, I thought well, it can’t hurt to just jot down a few notes, see what this fellow has to say. I literally knew nothing about him, name, background, age or any other pertinent information one needs to write about a character. But he was willing to talk, so I wrote what became the first chapter of To the Max. I pretty well wrote that chapter in one sitting. And needless to say, I didn’t go back to my other book, and To The Max was born.
What if I hadn’t listened to Max, would he still be there? I don’t know, and I’m glad I didn’t have to find out, as I’ve written a sequel since then, which Silver Publishing is releasing in June, and I plan to write more, not because of expectations of publication. Yes, I have those. But because I truly enjoy writing this character.
Have I ever had ideas I didn’t write down right away, thinking I’d retain them until I could do so? Yeah, lots of bestsellers, gone and lost forever. Why did I think I’d remember them when I can go to the grocery store for a few items, one in particular that I really need, and come back with everything but the one item I really needed? Ideas are a lot harder to hold on to, they’re more ethereal and prone to dissipation.
A few months ago, or whenever it came out (my grasp of time here not being the best), my daughter and I went to the theater to see Inception. I guess that was last year, come to think of it, maybe July. Wow, time flies. Anyway, it’s while we were watching that (an excellent film, by the way, for those who haven’t seen it), that a voice spoke to me, and it said: “Leonardo di Caprio is a vampire.”
Mine not to question why, mine but to remember. I realized it was a new character speaking, so I knew I needed names, as soon as possible. I kept repeating the line to myself during the film, and on the way home, my brain began to churn. One of the characters in that film is played by Cillian Murphy. His character name is Robert Fisher. I took that, turned it around, and added an s to Robert. Now I had Fisher Roberts. I needed another one, the one who was actually speaking to me. I began reading billboards on the drive home for inspiration. I saw one having to do with hunting. Well, that’s not a name, but wait, Hunter. Yes, I liked that. So thus was born Hunter Long. I didn’t know who these guys were or what their story was, but I had an opening line, and I knew it would be fun to find out what they were about.
Which I did. Leonard di Caprio is a Vampire is being released by Silver on April 30th, and the cover art, done by the very talented Reese Dante, is spectacular. If I’m at all successful, I will owe a great deal to her beautiful cover, it draws you in. Seriously.
Other of my novels have been born in the same way. Revelations began with Judas swearing. “Goddammit, Jesus” he said, and I began to write. I trust in my creative brain now, even if sometimes I look at it like are you crazy? You want to say what? But I go with it until I figure out what it’s trying to say.
So, when Inspiration calls, don’t be afraid to pick up and find out who’s on the other end of the line.
Do you have stories of inspiration, expected or otherwise? Do you have a muse to guide you, or is your inspiration faceless like mine? I’d love to hear! Thank you so much for having me, Margaret, the tea has been lovely, very delicious. I bet a tea shop would be an interesting place to write about, the stories that could start over the selection of a particular brand. Hmmm…