Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Inspiration on the road

I was standing in a roadside restaurant on the side of a chaotic, dusty highway between Delhi and Jaipur yesterday when an alert popped up on my iPhone. Type M blog due tomorrow. I am on a personal holiday and had planned to set aside all thoughts of writing for three weeks. However, in the back of my mind was a nagging wish to write a fourth in my Cedric O'Toole Rapid Reads series, and I had been waiting for inspiration to strike, as it often does, out of a random moment.

Such a moment had occurred the night before, and I decided it might be worth sharing in today's blog.

India is ten and a half hours ahead of Ottawa as well as a fourteen hour plane ride. My body clock had to stand itself on its head along with adjusting to a new setting, food, street noises like horns and barking dogs that went on all night. Thus there I was, when I should have been exhausted and crashing into sleep, lying in bed and staring up at the ceiling, my mind in overdrive. I did the usual – willpower, deep breathing, counting sheep – but to no avail. And I thought I've got loads of time with nothing to do but think. And imagine. And Cedric came to mind. Maybe toying with plot ideas, flat on my back in the dark, unable to make noise or turn on the light because of my roommate, will put me to sleep.

Surprisingly, after months of drawing a blank on interesting possible story lines, one came willingly out of that over-tired mind. I thought I'd get an opening or maybe a couple of scenes before sleep took over, but two hours later, at 4 am, I had sketched out almost an entire plot line, characters and conflicts, and a possible killer twist.

Given the hour and my fried brain, I didn't trust myself to remember it in the morning, so I rummaged as quietly as I could in my back for paper and pen, sneaked into the bathroom, turned on the light, and sat in the corner on a little stool to jot it down.

The result? The first bare bones outline of my new Cedric mystery. Maybe at my leisure on this holiday, the story will grow and deepen. Sometimes a change is as good as a rest for a writer's tired muse. So stay tuned for more news on this front. For now, I'm going to bed and I hope that this time, that muse leaves me alone to sleep.

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