Sometimes, people ask me where all the ideas for my writing come from. That’s easy. I am afflicted – or blessed – by a vivid imagination and a most demanding muse, my very own Ms Inspiration.
Lately, Ms Inspiration has not been much help. Not so that she doesn’t spout ideas – she most certainly does, especially around three o’clock in the morning – but her attention span is the size of a newt’s, which means none of the ideas go much beyond an image or two. It’s very annoying to have her leapfrog from a (great) idea for a story set in the 14th century to a vague daydream about becoming a hammer thrower and winning the Olympic gold. (This is the aftermath of having watched too much sports lately. Ms Inspiration has sadly concluded that I can neither ice skate, run nor do handstands, so throwing something is the single option that remains.)
Mostly though, Ms Inspiration is presently suffering from indecisiveness. What she touts as a plausible idea on Monday is a dead duck on Tuesday, and the fabulous love scene she painted for me on Wednesday she scraps on Thursday, saying that “it wouldn’t work.” Besides, she adds with a dramatic shrug, she’s thinking maybe I should do some dark realism.
What? No, no, no! I don’t do dark realism, I have enough realism in my life, thank you very much. I do escapism, stories about men and women in other times and other places.
“The love scene is much more my thing,” I tell her. (And it is; I do good love scenes)
“I told you; it wouldn’t work,” she snaps.
“He’s already married,” she informs me. (A big stickler for morality is Ms Inspiration. Leads to some very heated discussions, let me tell you.)
“We can unmarry him,” I try. “He’s not real.” Not yet, I mean. Once I start writing about this as yet unknown male, he quickly becomes very real.
“To me he is,” she says.
In protest I try to develop the scene by myself. Ms Inspiration goes on strike. My fingers cramp, my vocabulary shrinks to a maximum of 200 words, and the vague mental images I have of this unformed loving couple are brutally excised. I hate her. She snickers and twirls into a little whirlwind that fades away, leaving me longing for her to come back ASAP.
Ms Inspiration is a dark haired woman who would be beautiful had she not had a huge nose. (“Ow! Don’t pinch me!” Well at least she’s back…) She has kohl rimmed eyes that I am very jealous of, but no matter how often I try this look out the end result is always that of a Panda bear with a severe case of consumption – i.e. not the wished for effect. Ms Inspiration wears tight, long sleeved tops and sweeping, floral skirts that I’d love to wear but try to avoid. Being shorter and rounder, wearing flowered skirts gives me a disconcerting resemblance to a spinning top draped in a waxed tablecloth.
But most of all, Ms Inspiration sees stories in everything. I walk by a lame dog, and Ms inspiration whispers a little story about how the dog injured his hind leg while defending the family’s baby against the fierce attacks of a wolf. (Well, I didn’t say all her stories are original…) Loitering by the railway station is a young man with tattoos and long, dirty hair. Ms Inspiration sees an eco-warrior, a person who has sacrificed everything to fight for his convictions, and along the way he’s fallen in love with a gorgeous Somali goat shepherdess who has escaped her father and is scraping a living in Patagonia.
“Patagonia? how would a Somali woman have …?”
“Details, schmetails. You sort the logistic issues,” she says, waving a hand at me.
She might be contrary and opinionated, loud and impossible to manage. There’s no turning her on, and there’s not an off-button in sight, but ultimately Ms Inspiration is my driving force, my very own creative genie. Without her I would be diminished, all those words that sort of bubble out me drying up into a meaningless trickle.
“”Huh,” Ms Inspiration snorts, but I can hear she’s touched. Besides, she’s wiping that giant beak of hers. “You’re only saying all that because you need my help.”
Absolutely. But why tell her so?
“Now, about that love scene,” I say instead. And this time Ms Inspiration delivers, oh boy does she deliver.
About Anna Belfrage:
When not squabbling with Ms Inspiration, Anna writes and writes and writes. At present, she is hard at work with her series The King’s Greatest Enemy a series set in the 1320s featuring Adam de Guirande, his wife Kit and their adventures and misfortunes in Connection with Roger Mortimer’s rise to power. The first book, In the Shadow of the Storm, was published in November, 2015.
Anna is also the author of the best-selling and acclaimed The Graham Saga – all books have been honoured with a BRAG Medallion. Set in 17th century Scotland, Virginia and Maryland, the eight books tell the story of Matthew Graham and his wife, Alex Lind – two people who should never have met, not when she was born three centuries after him.
For more information about Anna and her books, please visit her website. If not on her website, Anna can mostly be found on her blog.