Monday, August 15, 2011

inspiration, the goblin king, and you


I'm actually not sure if that's true for me. Since I started writing, there's always some idea hanging by its tail in the closet, waiting to strangle me when I'm not looking and just want my red shoes. I think part of the reason is that once you open yourself up to possibility, you realize that it's everywhere. All the time.

For example, right now, here's what's obsessing me.

It's a piece from the Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty exhibit that recently closed at the Met in New York. Basically, I think this poor, tortured man was possessed with the spirit of the Goblin King, and everything he created was like something from a masquerade ball.

I saw pictures from the show on The Sartorialist, then had to check out the show online, then ended up buying the show catalog. And in spare moments, I've been losing myself in the pages. From the quotes to the photos, it's fascinating. Romance, history, darkness, savagery, rape, football, foreign relations, poaching. He covered everything. I'm probably going to have to buy another book and put this one on the shelf for keepsies because the Biscuit is also obsessed with it.

"Mommy, this book is so interesting. The cover is a face, but also a skull!" she said.

What I find curious is the difference between now and elsewhere. If you had shown me this book in high school or college, I would have looked at it and thought, "That's pretty cool." And I would have handed it right back to you and gone somewhere to be melancholy. Maybe I would have written a crappy poem or two about it.

But now? I'm obsessed. Each of the pictures conjures a scene, a character. I can't wait to write a book on it. If I had my way, I'd go buy a bottle of absinthe, check myself into a quiet hotel with a pool, and not speak to another person for a week as I went into a hallucinatory trance and wrote 80k without sleeping.

But I'm the same person, right? So what changed? One day, a switch flipped, and now everything means something. It reminds of of A Room With a View, when George flips over the painting and draws a question mark on it.

Now, everything is a question mark.

So here's what I would do, if I wanted inspiration.

I would poke around the internet. Follow people on tumblr, click on interesting links on Twitter. Plug songs you like into Pandora and find some new bands. Go to the used bookstore and pick books randomly off the shelves. Everyone says to get out in nature or go listen to conversations out in the world, but for me, that's a load of crap.

Because that's what I'm trying to escape, when I write.

Every book idea I've had in the past two years?

Has somehow come from the internet.

Even when I'm goofing around, I'm not actually goofing around.

So go goof around.

Follow a trail of breadcrumbs.

And then do something amazing.

What are you waiting for?

What have you got to lose?