Charles's picture
Charles from Portland is reading Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones October 15, 2011 - 12:13am

i dont mean like my wife, or anything like that. this thread should talk about the unusual stuff you see that, in some ways, only you see... that make you want to tell a story to express/explain them.

here's an example, i have a bunch of old art, prints, magazines etc. some of them are framed, and some not. i discovered tonight in an old rusty frame that has an old easter seal poster in it, the mat board isnt a mat board, but a baby picture from a baby that i obviously dont know, from i would say by the ink, the baby clothes and toys, the early eighties.

there's a book of poems i bought at an auction (i dont read poetry, i think it was in a box with some franklin library stuff i got for a song) and it says "to my supportive mom and dad. i wrote the poems on page...."

aliensoul77's picture
aliensoul77 from a cold distant star is reading the writing on the wall. October 15, 2011 - 12:16am

Songs or the images the songs bring up in my mind.  Pictures by artists and the stories I see in the pictures.  Sometimes just being in a different place than I usually go and when the weather is just right like at the park, I will feel inspired.  I also get inspired after having sex.

Kate Winters's picture
Kate Winters from Toronto is reading James Rollins' Sigma Force series October 15, 2011 - 12:24am

Music. Photography. Most of my ideas came from when I'm walking with my headphones on. I'm a very visual person, so really anything that brings an imagery which tells a story is inspirational to me.

Limbless K9's picture
Limbless K9 from Oregon is reading Wraeththu October 15, 2011 - 12:40am

Just watching people in general. I realized that I look at strangers as people who are living perfectly normal lives but that changes once I start creating a story about them. 

For example, that cute couple checking out in checking lane six seem happy and wonderful but the boyfriend could be cheating and if his secrets ever came out then his girlfriend could be devastated. You just never really know what's going on with people and I like creating situations for them. It's where I get most of my ideas honestly. 

.'s picture
. October 15, 2011 - 12:42am

I feel i'm a journalist and I report on the experiences I have and twist them around to make a good story. I guess thats pretty everyone though. I guess really old, manual type writers and poetry inspire me.

Renfield's picture
Renfield from Hell is reading 20th Century Ghosts October 15, 2011 - 12:51am

Cultural anthropology. Southern lore. Heavy metal culture. Musicians, music gear and electronic schematics of music gear. Vivid dreams/mushroom tea. Old time radio programs. Mental illnesses. Misheard words/puns.

aliensoul77's picture
aliensoul77 from a cold distant star is reading the writing on the wall. October 15, 2011 - 12:55am

Okay, I will second people watching.  Being at the airport is like a smorgasbord of story subject possibilities.  I sometimes get overwhelmed by the energy of crowds like at concerts or big book signings because I believe in a sort of psychic energy and sometimes you can just feel the crazy radiating off of people in a mob mentality situation.  Learning about mental illnesses as well because I'm currently getting my masters in Psych with a concentration in the mental health field.

Raelyn's picture
Raelyn from California is reading The Liars' Club October 15, 2011 - 12:59am

The Big Sur coast.  Particularly a beach called Limekiln.

Limbless K9's picture
Limbless K9 from Oregon is reading Wraeththu October 15, 2011 - 1:06am

Okay, I will second people watching.  Being at the airport is like a smorgasbord of story subject possibilities.  I sometimes get overwhelmed by the energy of crowds like at concerts or big book signings because I believe in a sort of psychic energy and sometimes you can just feel the crazy radiating off of people in a mob mentality situation.  Learning about mental illnesses as well because I'm currently getting my masters in Psych with a concentration in the mental health field.

 

    Oh I do love the airport for people watching. Airports and a college campus are my favorite places to people watch.

Jeremiah Murphy's picture
Jeremiah Murphy from Idaho is reading A Little Life October 15, 2011 - 1:10am

Driving. Probably not the safest time to zone out into story mode but for some reason my mind goes into hyper drive and I start thinking about the strangest things. Sometimes those strange things turn into something worth writing about. It works best when I'm not trying to come up with a story and I am just letting the thoughts flow.

Raelyn's picture
Raelyn from California is reading The Liars' Club October 15, 2011 - 1:10am

At airports watching people eat Cinnabons.  Louis C.K. and Jim Gaffigan both have segments where they make fun of them.  It's possibly the funniest thing ever.

laurelin gilmore's picture
laurelin gilmore from Sacramento is reading Tropic of Cancer October 15, 2011 - 1:12am

 Most of my stories have come from pieces of music that have moved me.   I see I'm not at all alone in that.  I start with a kind of trailer in my head for something that runs about as long as the song.  This informs the emotional weight and the basic plot outline, the basic character sketches.  Sometimes it turns into a stage play, or one act in a stage play.  From there it becomes a scene, and I can either write it, or explore the story around it.   It's a lot of fun for short story writing.  Just pick a song that sways you in one direction or another, and get to your sprint.

Nick Wilczynski's picture
Nick Wilczynski from Greensboro, NC is reading A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin October 15, 2011 - 1:14am

Riding my bicycle or driving. I am my most inspired when I am in motion.

.'s picture
. October 15, 2011 - 1:42am

Yeah I have to second mushroom tea. 

bryanhowie's picture
bryanhowie from FW, ID is reading East of Eden. Steinbeck is FUCKING AMAZING. October 15, 2011 - 9:00am

Dames, drugs, and dreams.  It's mostly the dames.

 

At least, that's the clever answer I came up with (god, clever is annoying).  But really I think most of my stories have come from a single sentence popping into my head.  Then I try to find out what that next sentence is.  Then it's a tamed goose chase until the end (and trust me, a tamed goose is still a motherfucker to catch).

My first real one (that I remember) was the line: "This is what happens when the baby dies."

Nathan's picture
Nathan from Louisiana (South of New Orleans) is reading Re-reading The Rust Maidens by Gwendolyn Kiste, The Bone Weaver's Orchard by Sarah Read October 15, 2011 - 12:48pm

Most music. Breaking Bad and everyone involved. Richard Thomas. Mark Vanderpool. Craig Clevenger. Quentin Tarantino. My two cousins, Scott Womack (a professional photographer who's made a living doing what he loves), and Tom Bunell (for the same reason -a working painter who has dedicated his life to his craft). Junot Diaz. And I guess the world in the sense that no matter what, there's always more of it to see. 

Nathan's picture
Nathan from Louisiana (South of New Orleans) is reading Re-reading The Rust Maidens by Gwendolyn Kiste, The Bone Weaver's Orchard by Sarah Read October 15, 2011 - 12:58pm

...

Charles's picture
Charles from Portland is reading Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones October 15, 2011 - 1:43pm

photogrphy is a big one for me. my own or that of others. i love this guy Chris Rauschengerg's work

i dont mean my own in sort of concieted way, but sometimes i'll see something when i get home that i didnt see when i was out "working" and it will inspire me, in either the way i take pictures, or give me an idea for a story.

.'s picture
. October 15, 2011 - 2:58pm

Litreactor :D

Sarah Metts's picture
Sarah Metts from Rock Hill, SC is reading A Game of Thrones October 15, 2011 - 3:59pm

As a teacher, I've seen children do some weird things. This includes playing funeral which involved a jump rope lynching (of sorts), grass being thrown over the "deceased" and a small chorus of first graders singing Amazing Grace....I tell you...kids these days.

bryanhowie's picture
bryanhowie from FW, ID is reading East of Eden. Steinbeck is FUCKING AMAZING. October 15, 2011 - 4:26pm

Shit, kids are freaky scary.

Limbless K9's picture
Limbless K9 from Oregon is reading Wraeththu October 15, 2011 - 8:04pm

As a teacher, I've seen children do some weird things. This includes playing funeral which involved a jump rope lynching (of sorts), grass being thrown over the "deceased" and a small chorus of first graders singing Amazing Grace....I tell you...kids these days.

 

Wow that's pretty crazy. Whatever happened to just burning ants with a magnifying glass? Ah, the good old days. 

Bekanator's picture
Bekanator from Kamloops, British Columbia is reading Ugly Girls by Lindsay Hunter October 16, 2011 - 9:20am

Gas stations, weathered buildings, psychopaths, Mad Men, nostalgic places, feminism, high school, sexual tension. road trips, vintage playgrounds.

Charles's picture
Charles from Portland is reading Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones October 16, 2011 - 9:27am

reading a bad book.

nothing will insult your ego as a writer faster than say.... steig larsson, or samuel beckett or curtis (fiddy munniez) jackson having a book not only published, but read

Jack's picture
Jack from England is reading texts of rejection from pretty ladies October 16, 2011 - 9:57am

Seriously? You think Samuel Beckett is on a rung with Stieg Larsson and 50 Cent?

Fylh's picture
Fylh from from from is reading is from is reading is reading is reading reading is reading October 16, 2011 - 10:15am

It insults me as a human being to see that.

Charles's picture
Charles from Portland is reading Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones October 16, 2011 - 10:22am

come on folks, im reading a play about BOREDOM, and do you know the emotion i suspect was beckett's intention? BOREDOM

not only that, but i would much like to lynch the author of the dust jacket praise, as i feel deep within my soul that it's false advertisement of the contents therein. if it's not, and the author of said blurb truly believes it to be the case, said author should in my opinion lose his job as a book reviewer, because he's fucking delusional.
 

 

 

"one of the most noble and moving plays of our generation.... with tenderness for the entire human perplexity; with phrases that come like sharp stabs of beauty and pain"

Fylh's picture
Fylh from from from is reading is from is reading is reading is reading reading is reading October 16, 2011 - 10:29am

Samuel Beckett, Philip Roth, who else? What other big names are you going to dismiss with quixotic bravery?

It's as if you refuse to let yourself enjoy reading anything of value.

Nick Wilczynski's picture
Nick Wilczynski from Greensboro, NC is reading A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin October 16, 2011 - 10:41am

While we can bicker about his choice of authors, I admit that I get the same feeling when I read Dan Brown or S. M. Sterling. We can use this thread to split hairs about who is a "good" writer and who isn't, or we can continue making a delightful list of inspiring things.

Maybe a little cheesy, but walking my dog. Combining the "in motion" element with "having an enthusiastic and fluffy companion" and it can be quite inspiring. Until of course I have to pick up her poop. But even then, you know, everything comes with its sacrifices, so that is just a speed bump over which my inspiration takes a leap.

Charles's picture
Charles from Portland is reading Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones October 16, 2011 - 10:42am

phil,

why are these books so important? what seperates them from something it's alright for me to spit on? a good review? because they accidently won some award? no one... including you... has ever come up with a reason im not allowed to hate AMERICAN PASTORAL, or WAITING FOR GODOT. both of which, if we're honest with ourselves are terribly written books, with entire chunks that can be dismissed by the reader, and had the author not been some apparent demigod, would have been culled by their editors.

what makes AMERICAN PASTORAL somehow better than DRAGON TATTOO? the writing is similar, there's meaningless sex, characters that are badly written, stereotypes, both narrators are writers (after a fashion) entire chapters that go nowhere, at least fifty pages devoted to shit we as the reader dont need to, or care to know. so why is one better? because roth wrote it? i hardly think so.

Fylh's picture
Fylh from from from is reading is from is reading is reading is reading reading is reading October 16, 2011 - 10:58am

@nkwilczy

I can bicker about his choice of books, and I do, and in the end, this can still be a delightful list of things that inspire us.

@Charles

I know nothing about you apart from your profession, your taste in books and your posting style, so I have the blessing of not being able to comment on you as an individual; in other words, I can focus directly on the inconsistencies that abound. Nobody needs to come up with a good reason for you to like American Pastoral, because nobody honestly gives a damn. American Pastoral will do fine long after this discussion is over. It's not the best book ever written. I don't care what is the best book ever written. And you know what? You're most welcome to hate it. You can burn it, or use it as a dog toy. Nobody cares.

The problem isn't with your opinion of a book. The problem is that I simply don't know what to do with these rage-filled, semi-coherent outburts of literary sadism.

Charles's picture
Charles from Portland is reading Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones October 16, 2011 - 11:02am

and you still didnt address my question.

i dont care if you like it, any more than you care i dont. my question was HOW IS THAT BOOK DIFFERENT FROM OTHER (RATHER SIMILAR) BOOKS ITS OK THAT I HATE?

Fylh's picture
Fylh from from from is reading is from is reading is reading is reading reading is reading October 16, 2011 - 11:07am

Seriously? Were you bullied at school or something?

I'm not going to type up a long post explaining why you should or should not hate it. Does that bother you?

Edit: If you can wait a week or so, one of my upcoming articles on Litreactor is precisely on why you should like Philip Roth. It's called "Philip Roth: A Primer" and maybe that will help.

Renfield's picture
Renfield from Hell is reading 20th Century Ghosts October 16, 2011 - 12:31pm

Gas stations, weathered buildings, psychopaths, Mad Men, nostalgic places, feminism, high school, sexual tension. road trips, vintage playgrounds.

 

I'll second road trips and gas stations, but I will amend it with gas station foods and slurpees.

ReneeAPickup's picture
Class Facilitator
ReneeAPickup from Southern California is reading Wanderers by Chuck Wendig October 17, 2011 - 3:50pm

Music. I have to have music. Mostly punk rock, but I also rely heavily on the three Angels and Airwaves albums, the music is arranged really powerfully and the lyrics are pretty emotionally charged. I don't know why, but I can stick that band on repeat and burn through some pages straight into the early hours of the morning.

Other times though, it is a weird dream that sticks with me, or a 'what if?' conversation that gets me going. I also day dream frequently enough to get ideas from that...

Nighty Nite's picture
Nighty Nite from NJ is reading Grimscribe: His Lives and Works October 17, 2011 - 4:26pm

Night time. Music. Anxiety attacks. Serial killers. Mundane rituals. Silent movies. The 90's. Victorian England. John Carpenter films. Comic books. Forests. Hermits. Madness. Phobias. Portmanteaus. Wordplay. New England. The Pacific Northwest. Showering. The Decemberists. The Paper Chase. People watching. Bad jokes. Little known historical facts. The paranormal. Long walks. Long drives and road trips. Shitty food. Booze. Seedy bars. Parties. Little travelled American back roads. The deep south. Western Europe. The roaring 20's. Sociology. Internet culture. Single word sentences. Christopher Nolan films. Dark humor. Suburban life. Small town conspiracies. Autumn. Winter. 90's sitcoms. Fog. The ocean. Harbors. Thunderstorms. Hospitals. Abandoned buildings.

These are a few of my favorite things~

Danielle Marie Tobias's picture
Danielle Marie ... from New York is reading House Infernal by Edward Lee October 17, 2011 - 5:58pm

@Charles I thought this was supposed to be about things that inspire us but now I'm afraid to list anything because you might not think the things that inspire me to the core will strike you as "BORING." Just kidding. But seriously, I've got this mental image of you stomping around with a copy of Dragon Tattoo slamming it on a desk going NEIN NEIN NEIN!

 

Lately, in odd order: 

Structure fires, busted baby birds, and the occult and that's about it. Otherwise, the only thing that ever inspires me are people who are good at a craft I feel that I understand. It's like they're bullying me with their talent. The only reason I ever get up off my ass and do anything is because I read a good chapter, or heard a good song.

Bekanator's picture
Bekanator from Kamloops, British Columbia is reading Ugly Girls by Lindsay Hunter October 17, 2011 - 6:07pm

@Nighty Nite - That's a pretty badass list you've got there. 

Charles's picture
Charles from Portland is reading Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones October 17, 2011 - 7:35pm

@danielle: see? my hatred of boring, terribly written and over lauded books has inspired you.

(the circle of life plays softly)

my work here is done

Dr. Gonzo's picture
Dr. Gonzo from Manchester, UK is reading Blood Meridian October 18, 2011 - 2:33am

Funny thread.  Films can inspire me.  Just a flash of a scene can send me off on some tangent that has nothing to do with what I've just seen.  I'm ignited by nothing sometimes.  My main inspiration, writing and keeping writing.  Having my head down, and a book to read when I'm done for the day.  Just staying in that zone, keeping my mind active and in that place.  Writing when I'm not writing.

Uland K.'s picture
Uland K. from Deep in the crumbling West End of Saint Paul, MN is reading The Outlaw Album October 18, 2011 - 8:10am

Objects:

fresh rope, lanterns/old flashlights, rusty kitchen knives, duct tape, binoculars/spy glasses, matte-black Chevy Novas, trailer-homes, ham radios, rubber boots, wool watch caps, piles of yellow newsprint, old pornographic magazines

Places:

Run-off ponds, brickyards, abandoned homes, dry-grass fields, empty strip malls, rural gas stations, tract-home basements, Hospitals circa 1943

 
misskokamon's picture
misskokamon from San Francisco is reading The Moonlit Mind October 18, 2011 - 10:03am

First and for most, music. Always music. If I'm commuting, I pop my earbuds in and listen. Music paints such lovely pictures in my brain, inspires moods and questions, even births characters for me. And I'm not talking about deep, moving music. I'm talking about all music, even pop music, even video game tracks! 

Second would have to be smells. Especially food smells. When I'm bored I'll pick something out of my environment and try to think of a bunch of unusual ways to describe it, and smells are the easiest since I live in the city. I come up with some interesting things to stick in my stories from that exercise! 

Movies and books and video games are always an inspiration. When it's good, I want to write something just as good. When it's bad, I want to write something like it but with all the things that should have happened to make it good

Also, and this might be weird, but science inspires me, too. Be it an archeological find, a possible Earth-like planet discovered in space, studies on physical or mental health... My creative brain gobbles that sort of thing up. I stalk io9 for any new development.

People don't inspire me much, but that's because I try not to stare at them. Apparently I have a rather grumpy expression as my default face, and people think I'm angry with them if they see me looking in their direction. In reality I'm not thinking about them at all. Usually I'm thinking of clever ways to describe how the train station smells, really. But the damage has been done!

 

 

Danielle Marie Tobias's picture
Danielle Marie ... from New York is reading House Infernal by Edward Lee October 18, 2011 - 2:58pm

@Charles Inspired to do what?

Charles's picture
Charles from Portland is reading Mongrels by Stephen Graham Jones October 18, 2011 - 4:23pm

inspired you to think twice about telling me about what you read, and so on. inspiration is inspiration. after all, i dont know if you'll turn my disdain for WAITING FOR GODOT, or shakespeare snobs into a character.

for the record, though: i wouldnt shame you for liking anything, even if i hate it. i am curious, sometimes, how something becomes a classic, or why everyone feels the need to defend something like GODOT, from someone like me. to me, its just existential jibberish, but to you it might be gold. when i make a statement like i have above, its not for any reason than to better my understanding of the pieces appeal.

for instance, i dont doubt people think the storyline in something like DRAGON TATTOO is awesome, sadistic, twisted. it's something that's tons of fun to read, if you dont get tired of repetition. that said, that was my biggest complaint about that book. my confusion, and what i have asked people about is why women love it so much. in MY OPINION the female characters are all stereotypes, and they are all either objectified, or throw themselves at the narrator. sometimes both.

Mike Mckay's picture
Mike Mckay is reading God's Ashtray October 19, 2011 - 10:41am

For some unexplained reason I can't help but release a stream thought when I see a dead animal. Seeing it once ok whatever just let it pass but when I keep seeing the same one consistently, my brain ignites to its fullest and I start thinking from my scary place. Something about that furry skin decaying in the heat and that hopeless blind stare at the sun with congealed fluid seeping out it's wounds. My pets are the worst. I bawl at the thought of my pet in the ground rotting, breathing in dirt and staring into darkness forever. Again for no reason this is one of the several odd things that inspire me to write.

Rest in peace Mr. Jingles.

pinkpowR's picture
pinkpowR from Hogtown USA is reading Jitterbug Perfume October 19, 2011 - 3:12pm

There is something magical and mystical in nature that not only inspires me, it ignites me.

 

StuDean's picture
StuDean from New Jersey is reading a lot of stuff October 19, 2011 - 3:32pm

People I see in everyday life that I've never met that catch my eye. They're anything and everything I assume them to be for whatever reason it was they caught my eye in the first place. Sometimes critical, sometimes in wonder, a lot of times in attraction. But always good for endless thought and imagination.

r.wilkinson's picture
r.wilkinson from Baltimore is reading Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman by Haruki Murakami October 19, 2011 - 5:07pm

I read a lot of civil complaints. Most of them are pretty boring, but even the boring ones can give me an idea. The more interesting ones are gold.

A. Mason Carpenter's picture
A. Mason Carpenter from USA is reading The Power of Myth, by Joseph Campbell October 20, 2011 - 1:20am

That is really a big question. I'll give you the top three things and try to explain.

1. Human stupidity. There is an inexhaustable supply of it, everywhere you look. Also, a certain amount of realistic human stupidity makes every situation easier to write. It is the whole bad horror movie decision thing. If your characters are always being smart, they will avoid getting axe murdered, and your book will be about Aunt Helen's Sunday dinners. Human stupidy creates conflict and conflict creates stories.

2. Casual evil. Living in the USA, I see a lot of this, and it always inspires stories. People are generally good, as long as you do not look too closely, but for every saint, there are a million total bastards. Again, a conflict factory.

3. Cartoon titties. I'm serious. When I am really stuck, I look at naked cartoon women. It makes my brain work better. Something about the natural beauty of the female form being filtered through the lens of a sexually frustrated cartoonist. It is more important to my creative process than all the other brainstorming techniques I know. R. Crumb, for instance.

misskokamon's picture
misskokamon from San Francisco is reading The Moonlit Mind October 21, 2011 - 2:49pm

I tried people watching this morning while on the train to work, and I don't know how you guys do it. People picking their pimples and examining the contents on their fingers, secretly picking their noses, chewing with their mouths open, scratching their naughty bits, not giving their seats to the elderly and handicapped... I finally stared at my purse, too afraid of what else I might witness.

but then there was this fellow, wearing very fellow-ish clothes and a fancy hat... and spandex. he was sitting in the seat across the aisle from me, his legs crossed, brown loafers clinging to his heels. 

I couldn't help but wonder what the point of the spandex was. He wasn't crossdressing, because his clothes were fairly masculine. White shorts, brown vest, and--as I mentioned before--a fancy hat.

I wondered, is it for health reasons?

Is he from a country where the men usually wear spandex? I've never been to another country so I'm not sure if it's a thing somewhere else.

Maybe he just thought it looked good. 

I don't know, but it had me thinking. 

It still does. 

And I really liked his hat.

 

Renfield's picture
Renfield from Hell is reading 20th Century Ghosts October 21, 2011 - 3:17pm

Were they spandex or thermal tights?

 

On my inspiration, according to Alicia Keys, "these lights."