Friday, January 29, 2010

Thoughts On Inspiration

Sometimes it takes so little to get my brain stirring. I've written before about how I find inspiration in music, particularly rock and roll. Well I found it again two days ago, this time from somewhere completely unexpected.

As a writer, words stick with me. They always have. I have a head for remembering things I've read. I still remember reading Beowulf for the first time one night, about 2 a.m. or so back in the days of high school. I made it to the part about the dragon and there was this epic line..."For the first time, that mighty prince fought with fate against him and glory denied him, and he knew it, and still he raised his sword and struck at the dragon's scaly hide." I cheered. Out loud. At two in the morning. Needless to say my parents weren't happy to be woken up.

I've only read Beowulf once and that line has stuck with me for easily a decade. Well, we were watching Jeopardy two nights ago and a first round category dealt with the French Revolution. Contestants had to identify the historical figure by quotation. One of the answers was this, which I'd never heard before: "I killed one man to save a hundred thousand."

I don't remember the answer. I don't even remember watching the rest of the episode because I spent the next 20 minutes or so wrapping my mind around that. At first blush it seems like such an easy choice. One man to save a hundred thousand...but then why would the speaker say it that way? Why do those words seem so laden with sadness?

And therein lies the inspiration for story. Think of the possibilities. Perhaps the speaker was such a dedicated pacifist that even taking one life to save thousands of others was a betrayal of his beliefs that deeply wounded him. Then again, maybe the life he took was his best friend and he had no other choice. Either reason begs the question of why? Why did he have to kill one man?

Inspiration is a many and varied thing. There's no telling when it will strike or how. One sentence that I can wrap a novel around. I love it. Immediately I started thinking of Blood and Steel and how I could fit that in the sequel to The Crownless King. After some careful thought I've decided that it doesn't belong. True, it fits very much with the mood of the world I've created in those novels but the plot is crafted around another sentiment, one which I won't put out here on the World Wide Web just yet. I'll be keeping this thought tucked away, both in my head and here on this blog. I have a feeling it's going to be revisited soon.

To change subjects just a bit here, it looks like we're settling in for another snow. I haven't yet heard any sort of reliable forecast for accumulation totals so I think I'm just going to wing it and see what happens. Typically, I'd hope for three feet so I could be happily snowed in my warm house. Tomorrow, however, brings a wedding to be shot.

As much as shooting weddings sometimes stresses me out, I find myself looking forward to this one. The bride presented us with a neat idea for a photo guest book where we would take a black and white portrait of their guests holding up a chalkboard with a simple message to the bride and groom. When all is said and done the happy couple should have a bunch of photos with messages instead of a book full of signatures. Pretty cool, eh? Wish I'd thought of it. I'm anxious to make it happen though. It will make the reception more entertaining for me to shoot.

In honor of tomorrow's wedding, I've posted the photo above. These aren't the people getting married, though their turn will come this summer. I'm sure you remember a few posts back when I wrote about getting stuck on North Mountain in attempt to take their engagement photos. Well, after all the efforts of freeing the car and getting back down the mountain I did manage to snag this photo. It was extremely windy and cold outside that day and this is really the only true portrait that turned out. After looking at it, it's become one of my favorites and I've added it to my portfolio that I show potential clients.

Since I have the house to myself for at least a couple more hours I think I'm going to go get lost in the pages of Modesitt's newest novel. The laundry can take care of itself.

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