It seems to be a law of writers' blogs that you must have an essay on that perennial question: Where Do You Get Your Ideas? Since I haven't even figured out how to post those links at the side of the blog yet, I thought I'd just get this one out of the way because it's so easy.
Franz Kafka offered this advice to writers (I guess to writers - I can't imagine who else he would have been talking to):
You do not need to leave your room. Remain sitting at your table and listen. The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstacy at your feet.
I'm here to say that that Kafka really knew what he was talking about.
My boyfriend has a house in a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood, an historical district with gorgeous old houses (huge wraparound porches, five-story high old growth trees, azaleas, hydrangeas, hyacinths - fireflies, for God's sake) - some of which have been redone to perfection, others (fewer and fewer) of which are, well - crack houses. Not to put too fine a point on it.
It makes for some interesting traffic on the streets, let me tell you.
This house is between two rental houses - grand old places that were split up some time ago into various small and in several cases, disreputable, apartments. In the house on the right are student types and young recent graduates. In the house on the left are crazy people and criminals.
And all this makes for some interesting viewing, during those long, long days when I'm staring blankly out of whichever window I happen to be working in front of.
There's a very, very cute twenty-something in the student house. Very cute. Very smart. Long hair. Great, probing eyes. Sits on the porch alone and smokes and thinks. Dead end job. Did I mention cute? And who lives with his very sweet, very straight girlfriend. And I'm very nicely taken care of myself, thank you very much. I'm just saying.
In the crazy house, there is a crazy girl. Young woman. One or the other. You must use words like "spitfire" and "floozy" and "lolls" and "prowls" to describe her. She throws anything within reach when she's angry, which is often. She screams. She sobs. She constantly locks herself out of the house.and asks the nearest passing man to boost her up to the second story window so she can get back in. She is often in just a - very short -bathrobe when she does this. I don't actually think she works, but if she did work, she'd be a "dancer". You know. Not quite exactly the way I'm a dancer. Sex just rolls off her in waves. I'd sleep with her. Well, I wouldn't really, but I certainly don't have the slightest trouble imagining it.
Oh yeah, and she's married. Young husband. Clueless.
Now, this whole situation is ripe. It's practically oozing. There will be all kinds of sex with the wrong people. There will be scheming, and cross-scheming. Someone will die. Horribly. There will be betrayals and reversals that will make your head spin.
And you know, I don't have even the vaguest idea what part of it I'll end up writing. The whole Hitchcockian thing? Or just one character who shows up fully formed in some other story when I least expect it? I have no idea. I just know it's growing.
I remain sitting quietly at my table, and wait for the world to roll at my feet.