My dad calls me "Pickle." While that may be irrelevant to everything I have ever said/will say, it sounded like a nice introduction to a post on the juices that get us writers going. Creative juice is a strange and intangible thing, despite the fact that everyone talks about it like it's this completely understandable and real thing. What is creative juice? Why do we call it "juice" and not "liquid" or "sauce" or "potato?" Would it really sound that weird to hear people say, "My creative potato is really cookin' today" ? Maybe. At any rate, for some unbeknownst reason, the word is juice. Once upon a time, a man wearing a hooded garment rubbed his beard and declared (whilst stirring a cauldron of toad liver and rooster feet) that the inspiration behind every writer would henceforth and forever be called juice.
Every writer will tell you what inspired his or her latest story. Every reader wants to know. A story about a small man with really hairy feet, off to steal from a dragon? What brought that on? Inspiration is paramount to a successful story. Without inspiration, a writer has to yank the words from his brain, rather than control their spillage from his heart. We all need inspiration, no matter what we do. Everyone knows this. For a little bit, I'm going to talk about my favorite juices.
1. Pickle juice
Have you ever eaten a pickle? If you haven't, you need to stop reading this and get to the store pronto so you can be like every other human who exists. Pickles are delicious. They are green and juicy and salty and kind of strange but really good. Pickles inspired a short story of mine entitled "Optimisms" about a guy after my own heart. He's addicted to pickles. He and I are good friends.
The tall ones, with the bark and the branches and the leaves. I get really sappy when it comes to trees (see what I did there?). I think the majority of my ideas originated around trees.
3. Grey skies, but only under non-humid conditions, and with a light breeze. So basically no grey sky that ever exists in Florida except on rare occasions. Like the apocalypse.
To me, grey skies=impending doom. Impending doom=time to write a story!
4. Wind chimes
These are related to grey skies. Do you remember when Mel Gibson and his family are hiding from the aliens in Signs? (Um, yes, that takes up, like, half the movie.) Okay, well, at one point during their hiding, the camera pans around the outside of their house, and viewers hear the wind chimes chiming. Whenever I hear wind chimes, I think of that scene. Then I think of aliens. So I guess aliens inspire me. Which leads me to...
5. The night sky
The absolute awe and horror that goes into staring at the infinite galaxies (and possibilities) that twinkle a million miles away. The night sky makes me think of time travel and wormholes and blackholes and plotholes and lots of other things that make my brain explode. I think every person needs a good universe-induced-brain-melting.
6. Watching people (otherwise not known as "stalking")
'Cause, you know, people are interesting, and they do interesting things. You want to create characters with depth? Watch people. Just not with binoculars, because you get weird looks.
7. The moon
The shrinking and growing of the moon fascinates me, especially when I found out that the moon doesn't actually shrink or grow; it just moves around so that light hits it differently. What!
8. Realizing that all my inspirations are really cliché, but also realizing that that's okay--those things are inspirational for a reason.
It is time for my customarily-cheesy farewell, and it is this: imagination is the greatest inspiration of all. It's a book that never ends, one you get to carry at all times, one you never have to stop reading because it's dinnertime, one you can read even when it's dark. Who needs pickle juice and toad livers when you have a brain that churns unlimited stories? My imagination is the best creative juice that I have. But sometimes even my juice needs juice, and that's when numbers 1-7 mentioned above come in handy.
If you want to write something you love, I think a good question to ask yourself is, "What inspires me?" When you find out, write a story. And then let me read it, because I forgot to say: stories inspire stories. The more people write, the more others are inspired, and the more that people write. That's a pretty overwhelmingly-awesome thought for ya.