by Ben Small
Not talking about church here. More the opposite. Like the spot where I like to dream of murder.
Hopefully, you the reader, are a writer or a reader, or you're probably dialing 911 about now.
But I'm talking about writing inspiration, where you drum up plot points, where you ask some of the more interesting What if? questions.
I get mine from many directions: watching interaction at the mall or at sporting events, or just sitting at the U of A campus, watching people. I'll jot a few notes about character traits I may want to infuse into someone later. Or I'll drift away sometimes while I'm writing, flowing on a gust of creative wind that may become a storm. Classical music puts me into a contemplative mood, which can often be intense enough I don't even hear my wife come in with amendments to the Honey Do list.
But the places I enjoy most for this are similar. The hammock off a back deck or a lounge chair by the pool, both at night, when the desert comes alive. Birds calling to mates or potential victims are sending messages, and I'm picking up their vibes. I often imagine what they're saying to each other. Or a big iguana may crawl out of a bush, stand a moment stock still, before scurrying away. The Gambel quail stir and squawk warnings. Is a bobcat about to saunter by?
It's amazing how the desert nights drive my creative spirit. I can come in after an hour in the desert night full of new ideas, ready to pound some keys on the keyboard always in my lap.
I come up with trigger words -- no, not something I aim at a troublesome neighbor -- words I can jot down when I come in that will take me back to my musings. Amazing how one little word can signal a major plot change. But it's the way I used to prepare for closing argument in trial, trigger words, shorthand, one note and a torrent is released. It works in writing, too, which is why I always keep a notebook next to my bed and why there's a stack of torn magazine pages next to me wherever I go.
But by far, the desert night, no traffic, just enjoying the peace and tranquility -- unless the coyotes have scored -- provides my best inspiration. Combine the desert night with Rachmaninoff when I return, and I'm off and riding the tide, pounding on the keyboard like an over-caffeinated court reporter.
But no Bach, please. Bach steers me toward murder. Oh wait...that's what I do: write about murder.
More Bach please. And more desert.