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When inspiration strikes, and where to keep it February 23, 2010

Posted by mattfarmer in writing.
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I remember the first thing that was told to me in my writing course at university. Every writer should carry a note pad and pen with them at ALL TIMES. That very day, at lunch time, I went to the uni shop and bought a fancy note-book and pen. I discovered the fancy note-book did not fit into my pocket. I also discovered you do not need to spend a lot of money on fancy note pads. They are merely paper with which to record ideas.

I now carry around with me, everywhere I go, a Canadian notepad. This is an important fact. Canadian notepads (or North American, if you must be accurate) open out like a regular book. Where as notepads in Australia flip open upwards. I carry these Canadian note pads around with me for two reasons: 1. I bought them while in Canada with my friend. So now when I run low she must send me more. 2: my friend bought me a fantastic hand-made leather notepad holder designed specifically for this very type of notebook. So you see, I HAVE to always have this type of notepad.

It goes with me where I go and whatever I am wearing. My friends know I always have it on me, and those who don’t, always get a surprise when they ask for a pen.

Monday night just passed, I was sitting on the train platform, heading home after basketball. We lost, I was tired and sweaty and just wanted to get home. It was a mostly empty set of platforms, at night, pale fluorescent lighting, vending machines and discarded news papers. An express train wooshed past on another platform. I was reminded of the Matrix films, when Neo and Agent Smith fought in the first movie, and when they chased the Trainman in the third movie…

… and so my mind begins to wander. I am visualising a fight scene on the mostly deserted platform. I actually thought it would be a fun idea to bring some screen writers and film makers down here and perhaps plot out a fight scene, just as a creative exercise. I am imagining a great beast of sorts, fighting a more human looking character. I have a story seed buried somewhere which would fit this scene perfectly.

I can see the fight, light poles being bent and twisted, vending machines being destroyed, cans hissing and fizzing on the platform. I can see the big bad guy picking up a beaten and bruised good guy and throwing him into the path of an oncoming train. Being supernatural (of course), the good guy manages to get away somehow, which angers the big bad beast. Live to fight another day, as they say.

So, sitting on the platform, I grope through my sports bag and find my leather-bound note pad and my simple black pen. I thumb to a blank page and write, with atrocious hand writing, the bones of this fight scene, some notes on who the beast is, on who the human could be, have another spark of inspiration, and make the human a butler for the lead characters, rather than the lead himself. That gives him more an air of mystery. I make notes as to which idea seed it belongs to, and along comes my train.

It is such a simple thing to have, a note pad and pen. I do know that if I didn’t carry it with me all the time, many a brilliant idea, those sparks of creative awesome, would fizzle on the winds and be lost.

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