That Peculiar Mistress, Inspiration

People always ask writers where they get their ideas. Writers are generally baffled by this question because for most of us, ideas come in an endless, even overwhelming flow. The problem is finding the time to write them all! That’s certainly how it used to be for me. I kept entire notebooks full of half-sketched-out ideas. I would actually cry, sometimes, reflecting on the unlikelihood of me ever writing all the things I wanted to write before I die.

Secondhand Shadow was probably one of my more random inspirations. I had just watched Eragon (…yeahhh) and I was simultaneously sighing over Garret Hedlund’s pretty face and chewing on the “mind-linked magical creature” trope, which I love. And I thought… suppose the mind-linked magical creature was a human? Thus was Damon born.

(So, yeah, the first version of Damon looked a whole lot like Murtagh from the movie Eragon. He evolved from there, but I won’t argue with anyone who chooses to visualize him that way.)


In the last couple years, my fount of endless ideas has dried up considerably. Not that I stopped writing. I would pull out old ideas and try to breathe life back into them, which thus far has not worked — and makes me sad because they are good ideas and I want to write them. I’ve also written a crap ton of fanfic (which is a topic for another time), which I feel has kept me in good practice but also possibly sapped my creativity? Like, I realized I was pouring all my Writerly Feelings into fanfic, which is completely fine if that makes you happy, but for me as a person who wants to publish original material and have a Writerly Career, fanfic needed to remain a hobby, something to fit between other things, not the whole enchilada.

I have a new idea now, the first really new idea I’ve had in ages, and I probably shouldn’t talk about it too much because it’ll jinx it or something. But inspiration this time came from an even nutsier place than mediocre fantasy movies. In my first post I mentioned Flight Rising. It’s a virtual pet site with dragons. And it’s become my personal soap opera. All my dragons have little personalities and storylines and relationships with each other. That forced me to think up new stuff, and it throws in a bit of randomness too that you then have to work into your story — like the computer assigning your first dragon a mate that you think is ugly, or your dragon OTP’s highly-anticipated mating producing… one egg, or the site crashing for three days which you decide means there was an earthquake and your lair collapsed. How many dragons survived???!

No, I’m not writing about dragons. But I am borrowing character traits and storylines from my dragons. And I am not ashamed. Wish me luck!