Inspiration Is Everywhere. Really.


Seven years ago, I drove almost 2000 miles in two days. I traveled from the Pacific Northwest to Iowa, from “the edge to the middle”. I drove about 12 hours one day, and about 18 hours the next. I was the kid who couldn’t find their way out of the neighborhood, the one who never liked road trips, and wasn’t entirely sure how to read a map. I packed my shit and took off for a better life.

Now that I think about it, it sounds familiar. It sounds like Bevie. It didn’t occur to me until last week how much it sounded like her. She left Nebraska for San Francisco, then on to Wyoming… She picked up her life and she was gone. Bevie didn’t come into being at all until about 3 years ago, and then she was just a couple of notes in a notebook. She didn’t really turn into someone until August or so, when Oliver and I sat down to write Rabbit in the Road. That’s when her character developed and deepened. But I think the Bevie-seeds were sown a long time ago, when I took that long-ass drive.

Would Bevie be the same if I hadn’t taken that trip? If I had never moved away from my home of 27 years, a woman alone on the road, would I have a story about a woman on the road in me? Maybe. Would I know about all the empty spaces in this country, all the lonely corners and tucked-away desolation America holds? Would I have seen how easy it really is to disappear in a land this large? Maybe.

Probably  not.

It wouldn’t have the ring of authenticity in me. I might manage to make it sound legit on the page, but it wouldn’t ring clear IN ME. Because I did it, I know when it’s right.

Everything we love, jammed in a U-Haul

A week ago, Oliver and I drove almost 2000 miles in three days, from the middle to the edge. I’m back in the Pacific Northwest after seven years away. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, there will be a story that comes out of that drive. It might not be a story about a long trip, but something about that little adventure will be the authenticity I need to make a story ring clear. Maybe the snowy mountains sidling up the the road, or the man who lost his dog in the hotel parking lot will make it to the page. Maybe the cheap gas in Idaho or the bar where you could join your neighbors to watch Survivor will be in a story soon. Maybe Des Moines, that I’ve left behind, or the Northwest, now that I’m seeing it with fresh eyes…

Inspiration is everywhere. It’s in a drive to the store, or in paying a stack of bills at the kitchen table. It’s in changing diapers, in pouring tea, in sweeping the porch clear of leaves and dust. It’s in big things  and everyday things. You already have everything you need.

What inspires you? It doesn’t have to be a big thing, some grandiose moment. Tell me about it.

-Danika

14 comments

  1. My children inspire me.
    Painting…even randomly (Like for the playroom right now)
    Sometimes the simplicity of certain things are a big inspiration.
    My Mom (R.I.P.) to this day…even 9 years after she passed is an inspiration.

      1. The fact that you drew attention to what your inspiration was for the book and tying YOUR life into it is really inspiring. There really is no limitation to how our lives can influence our writing.

  2. Niiice!

    I was happy to finally get out of Texas and see the world. From my genealogy trips, one move cross-country the short way from Texas to Wisconsin, and then the long way, from Wisconsin to Alberta. I now know that North Dakota may not BE the biggest state, but good GOD it seems that way. And Glendive, Montana? They should just call it DIVE. What brought you back?

    your bud, the Hip-Hop-a-potamus

    1. Well, Iowa wasn’t quite the hustle and bustle we were looking for. Oliver does game journalism, and the West Coast is where it’s at. My family is all here, and it’s time to be near them. It seemed like a good opportunity to reconnect and restart. Now that we’re working on novels so much harder, we can redefine our lives a little bit to balance work/writing/family better. Being back seems to make that a lot easier.

  3. Music inspires me. Every character I’ve ever created, every story I’ve ever thought of, all have a soundtrack in my head. From the slow and soulful jazz to the darkest of heavy metal to Beethoven’s 5th Symphony hurtling through space on Voyager 1, music moves my soul in ways that no other art can.

    1. Thanks for sharing with me. I think Oliver is more attuned to music than I am, but there are songs that take me away so quickly, it’s like having a hallucination. Hell, I’ll cry at a movie TRAILER if the music swells in just the right way. It’s the most powerful medium, I’d argue.

      One of the first things we did for our current book was find the sounds- the Black Island in particular, and the way the people there sang their history- it’s inspired by the Bulgarian Women’s Choir. When we tried to think about how the individuals sang, it was Mongolian throat-singing and the split tone provided by one voice.

    2. I’m the same way Bill. If I can’t find the music that goes with something, I have a hard time envisioning it.

      True story, every time I sit down to brainstorm, I have to tune into music that matches the genre. Every time I’ve brainstormed Dusk Harbinger, I was listening to the soundtrack of Everquest II.

      Even for Rabbit, we sat around and listened to a LOT of oldies, like the Supremes and such.

    1. Thanks for dropping by and commenting. You know, I spent the evening hanging out with some really cool little kids, and their energy was so infectious. They had such a wild, untamed sense of wonder and crazy sense of humor. It was refreshing.

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