Why does inspiration hit at the most inconvenient times?
We’ve all experienced the “shower wisdom.” The kind where you’re lathered in shampoo, unclothed, wet, and exposed, and one of your characters decides to pester you with the best idea ever.
“Please? Please let me bungee jump off the Eiffel Tower then mysteriously disappear at the end of Chapter Four. Please!”
OR, for you YA writers:
“I’m in love with Sydney. I know she belongs to Isaac and that they’re getting married in Chapter 3 but I just CANNOT shake my feelings for her.”
Then, if you’re a stay-at-home parent and are robbed of simple privacies such as bathing or peeing without spectators, your children (like, your tangible offspring, not your literary babies) barge in with a handful of “no-this-cannot-wait” requests. Your audience only grows from there and once all the characters have joined, it’s a full on rave in the bathroom. Par-tay in the shower!
Of course during all of this you’re trying to desperately hold on to that amazing idea before it washes down the drain or is shoved away by the dozens of demands pelting your way. It always makes me think of this meme:
Or there’s those times when you’re trying to get dinner on the table and that little voice says: “You need to have Jane turn left down the forbidden path – not right – because this would “up the stakes” even more, thus better catapulting the reader into Act III.” So in the time it takes you to locate a capture tool (it doesn’t matter how many notepads I station around the house, they never stay with their pens, and vice versa) and if you’re lucky, get that idea on paper, the marinara sauce has started to burn, the 4-yr-old is jamming DVDs into the Bluray player, and the toddler is dancing flamenco on the kitchen table. But was it worth it? Capturing that plot-changing idea? You tell your brain: YES, but can you please withhold any further inspiration until I’m sitting peacefully, uninterrupted, with notebook open and pen at the ready?
Another one we’ve all experienced is inspiration on the toilet. By the time you’re finished with your business the idea is already slipping down the U-bend with everything else that just exited your body (I promise that will be the extent of my potty humor on this one).
Or how about when your characters like to visit you during a medical exam? The doctor says: “Okay, you might feel a little pressure here,” and instead of nodding compliantly, you yell: “Not now, Esmerelda! I’ll help you storm the castle later!” Haha. I joke some, but seriously, those characters have no sense of propriety sometimes.
My poor husband has accepted the reality of having extra “guests” accompany us on our dates. Even if they’re not actively in our conversations, he knows when my characters are buzzing inside my brain because my conversational output will be conflicted with hiccups. For instance, I’ll randomly stop speaking to him mid-sentence because yep, you guessed it, little Timothy is inside my head, suggesting I give him a bigger role in the subplot.
The list is never ending. And it’s really amusing. But that’s what it’s all about, right? Maybe the writing Muses do it on purpose: spark our brains at the most awkward or inconvenient times so that we can experience some comic relief – so that we can survive the actual grind of writing when the time comes.