The first time I remember being inspired for a story I was eight years old. An episode of “Family Ties” had left me completely crushed and begging that the story couldn’t end that way. Ellen Reed had agreed to marry her boyfriend, leaving Alex P. Keaton full of despair. Why an eight year old was so tore up about a sitcom romance, I have no idea. Maybe I’ve always been a romantic?
The experience filled me full of questions about how the writers could do that to poor Alex. What was going to happen? Would she still be on the show? It just couldn’t end that way. So, that night I remember “righting” the wrongs of his heart. I did the same a season later after everything was fixed and she took an opportunity and went to dance in Paris.
From that point on, inspiration seemed to come from everywhere. I created these characters that still live with me today, in part from combining inspiration I’ve found through books, television, movies, music, art, games, and real life occurrences. My sister and I would even play out some of the scenarios with our Barbie dolls and small toys. I remember my characters being trapped on a camping trip and spending a couple of hours making a rubber band chain that could stretch across our room for them to travel across to safety. My mother wasn’t always thrilled with the mess we created but our minds were rich with creativity and innovation as we played out our tales.
As I grew older, I often processed my emotions through story. My characters would face a similar feeling in a personally created scenario, and they would work through it with me. It’s often in a much more interesting way with many more obstacles and resources. It was a way to refocus and helped get me through my emotional teen years.
Adulthood has been interesting. Daydreaming is kind of an odd thing to do once you’re past the age of fourteen. I remember many times watching out the car window on a road-trip and my mind wandering to characters with a more exciting reason for exploring the destination. Other people’s lives lived in my head, and that’s kind of tricky to explain. An odd gas station trip, a favorite scene in media somewhere, or a random song would keep them going and they would expand as my experiences did.
Now, I call that wandering mind of mine writing. It sounds much more official with a title, though I often find people curious about why I spend so many hours with it. It seems that if you’re not officially getting paid or it’s a true assignment, it’s frivolous. I have a feeling whimsical thought will be with me for the rest of my life. So whether it’s called childish, silly, daydreaming, pretending, playing, wasting time, or writing, it inspires me. As life does, from everywhere. Even in the most unusual places.