I was at a meditation workshop this past weekend, and found it a gold mine of inspiration for my writing. We did many hours of meditating, and as the noise/clutter of my mind died down into the great quiet, there were these large nuggets of ideas, sitting there. For the first time, I saw the face of my main character, his pasty white skin and blotchy cheeks, but I was impressed with the vigour in his eyes, his energy.
There is a store of very grounded information to be found in the quiet … sometimes it doesn’t present itself, though. But it’s nice to know I don’t have to depend on dreams to see my monks.
I also found inspiration this weekend in the Saturday Vancouver Sun. An article about Kelowna writer, Alan Bradley, described how the 70-year-old former radio/television engineer had retired at 55 to write full time. He co-authored a study of Sherlock Holmes (Ms. Holmes of Baker Street, 2004), published a memoir (The Shoebox Bible, 2006) and has most recently published Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, 2007, which won the British Crime Writers Association’s CWA Debut Dagger Award. Its success has launched plans for a series, named after the book’s main character, Flavia de Luce, a precocious 11-year-old girl. Bradley has since plotted out six Flavia books. The Bantam Dell Publishing Group has bought the U.S. rights to all six, as has Doubleday Canada. Well, that’s verging on mega-success. Good on you, Alan!
Also inspiring is the “arrival” of his main character, Flavia. In the Sun article, Bradley describes a rare “writing moment”, when Flavia de Luce appears for the first time
“He drove up the gravel driveway to this crumbling old estate, got out of his car and, lo and behold, there was a girl sitting on a camp stool with a pencil and a notepad, and she was furiously scribbling away.
“He asked her what she was doing and she said, ‘I’m writing down licence plates.’
“And he said to her, rather facetiously, ‘I don’t expect you get very many in such an out-of-the-way place,’ and she said, ‘Well, I’ve got yours, haven’t I?’
I was reminded of how, a year or so ago, I began to have dreams of monks appearing out of the candle-light, speaking to me. It was like I couldn’t hear them, though; at least I couldn’t recall what they said in the morning. While no monk has insinuated himself quite like Flavia did for Mr. Bradley, I feel privileged to have at least had the visit.
The Sun article also reveals that, although the novel is largely set in the U.K., Mr. Bradley had never visited the country until he went last year to collect his Debut Dagger Award. Well, I haven’t read the book, yet, but I assume he was able to write well enough about the country on whatever his muse could feed him. I’m hoping the same for my own novel, though I have visited England several times and have a bit of a feel for the place. It’s just imagining what the countryside looked like in the middle ages — that is my challenge.
Can’t you tell me anything, brother?