Rosanne Dingli

Rosanne Dingli

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Where authors get their inspiration

Every now and then, I get visually inspired. It does not happen often, but it did just now, and I must tell everyone. I used to think I was only inspired by words. Most of my writing came from a line or two I read somewhere, or something somebody said.

I can write whole chapters from a line I find in a magazine, a poem, or even an advert. I don't use the words themselves, but they are what opens the floodgates for thousands of more words to come into my head. No, not even my head... sometimes I feel they are in my fingers, and just get typed out.

Today, a strange thing happened. I saw a picture by Rembrandt called The Philosopher's Meditation. It is one of those rare pictures of that great master's that are not very well known. Most people can conjure a mental picture of his self-portraits, but this one is a rare one. And it immediately gave me a trigger, a flow of words that would just come if I let them. I'll let them presently, after I finish this.

So please, imagine me writing, writing, writing - and have a look at what set it all off. Those stairs - those spiral wooden risers and treads - are so Dutch. One can imagine the tall narrow house in which they serpent upward and downward. It's a mysterious painting, and no doubt the piece I write will try to convey that sense of mystery. The sense of those times when nightfall brought the necessity of lighting one's way. The failing light coming through the window makes the woman on the right stir the fire and soon, she will be lighting yellow candles that smell of tallow and beeswax.

I must stop right there... this is not the right place to put it all down. Watch this space, and I shall tell you if I got anywhere with this visual prompt.

And do let me know what sets you writing. Are you blessed with visual ability, a nice link between your eyes and your creative brain? Or do you need music? Smells and tastes, we know - not only from Proust - are very powerful triggers. What are yours?
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  1. Love your post about inspiration, Rosanne. All sorts of things inspire me, but the most important thing is to keep oneself open to inspiration - and to keep a notebook handy. I never let an inspiring moment pass undocumented. I get up in the middle of the night if necessary to scribble down an idea.

    Happy writing!

  2. Oh yes, I have a notebook next to the bed for those 3am flashes of inspiration and in the car and in my handbag.Anything can be a trigger. Anyone who read my interview about writing Streets on a Map would know it was a face and an incident and a lot of what if. Other times it is a song, a dream, a painting like Rosanne, a conversation overheard, a line from a poem. It varies.

  3. Hi Rosanne,
    The novel I'm working on at the moment was inspired by a dream I had about seven years ago. It was just one scene but it gave me characters and situation which were all I needed to expand on.
    The novel has undergone many, many metamorphoses, but the two characters remain. I haven't finished that novel yet, but it's been stalking me a long time and I'm not giving up! :)

  4. Loved the Rembrandt painting. You can certainly get inspired by it, or lost in it. Inspiration comes to me a lot when I'm out walking, just letting my thoughts ramble, and then suddenly one in particular hits me, and I have to stop and jot it down. Often, and this is most annoying, when I go to bed in the short while before I fall asleep, or around 4 a.m. when I wake from a sound sleep.

    Please let your readers know where you went with your Rembrandt inspired piece.

  5. That is a beautiful piece of art Rosanne.
    At the moment what gets me to write are memories and feelings - so nothing visual. Although I have used quotes. But I am also not writing fiction yet - which is my long term plan. One day I will...

  6. Nice post...I think my blog has got to with everyday life so I try to be really observant and little things which I overlooked otherwise has got me inspired now!