Picture me, profound intellectual that I am, cruising home from karate class last night, radio turned to the station that plays Lady Gaga, Eminem, P. Diddy and Katy Perry. (Feel free to judge me. However, it’s either that or Classical, and after practicing how to break a man with my knuckles for an hour, Papa Haydn is not my most natural segue.)
So there I am, rolling down the road, cranking out tunes, keeping it classy in my 2006 V4 base-model Honda Accord. And what am I doing? I’m cheating on my book.
I’m sorry, Counterfeit Emperor. It’s not you, it’s me. I’ve found somebody new, and, well, we’re happy together. All those plot tangles and character issues you have, that I’ve been so patient with for so long? This new book doesn’t have those. It’s fun. It lets me do what I want. What? No, of course I’ll finish revising you.
It’s dangerous, of course, cheating on your book. You do it too much and eventually you start thinking, hey, my new book sounds like so much fun, I don’t need to finish this one I’m on now. And that way lies madness, because there’s always a Next Book to cheat with when the honeymoon phase wears off.
Right, so anyway: there I was, cruising home like a badass, rockin’ 30 in a 25, rain gushing down, and I’m trying to think of the perfect ending for my next book. For me, it’s important to figure out the ending very early on. I want to build the whole story with the ending in mind. I want something both shocking and satisfying, something totally unpredictable that’s nevertheless a perfect fit.
And I’m getting nowhere.
So I thought, okay, next song that comes on the radio, whatever the opening lines are, that’ll be the inspiration for my ending. (And in the back of my mind, I’m thinking: yeah, right. But it’s worth a shot, no?)
And the next song comes on:
Written in the stars
A million miles away
A message to the main
Seasons come and go
But I will never change
And I’m on my way
I thought, hey, that’s not bad! It’s no Keats, but if you’re looking for sci fi inspiration, you could certainly do a lot worse (I roll up / I roll up / I roll up / Shawty I roll up / I roll up / I roll up / I roll up). So I ponder these lines for a few minutes, and next thing you know, voila! The ending I’ve been looking for.
All of which is to say: writing is strange. And also: thank you, Tinie Tempah.
What’s the strangest place you’ve ever found inspiration? Tell me in the comments!