Finding inspiration in old favourites
I suggested the challenge: write a story inspired by a book you love. My friends agreed.
This should have been easy: books are ace, and I’m partly made of books (and cheese). Just recently I’d enjoyed every moment of writing a story inspired by The Little Prince. Yay, let’s do that again, I thought.
'Meh,' said Gonzo, my creative brain. I’ve offered her many ideas, and she’s played with some of them just long enough to get my hopes up. A first scene dripped onto a page, but it dribbled away into indifference. Since then, nope-nada-nothing doing.
Sniffy Neg, my inner critic, has been telling me why I should give up. ‘That’s my job, yeah? That book’s childish, that one’s pretentious, that one’s weird. Like you. Anyway, you’ll never sling the words together that’ll do ‘em justice. Probably just spoil everything, won’t even love them anymore. These books don’t love you back, by the way.’
‘Find the right kind of magic,’ sighs Gonzo, curling up for a nap. Thanks, Gonzo. Three days left to get this done. On my own, apparently. To the bookcase.
Once I’ve read books, I keep those that inspire me. Others go off into the world to find the reader they deserve. So, all the books on the top shelves have some kind of magic for me.*
Running my fingers along their spines, I feel the first kind of magic. It’s wide-eyed wonder, at beauty and the plausibility of good. The second is new ideas, new ways of seeing the world that changed mine forever. The third is transportation into impossibility. Finally, there are the books of words that sing, sentences that stop time.
All too precious to unpick, too perfect to impersonate.
Gonzo leans her head on my shoulder. ‘Hhhm? Sure? Nothing missing?’
Of course. Thanks, Gonzo. There’s another magic here.
‘Not a dusting fairy, that’s for sure.’
Shut up, Sniffy. Questions! Here are the questions left behind - mentally indelible, tickling, story-making questions, of untold background, unresolved sub-plots, about the characters left behind. These are the magic I need.
Gonzo, have you never wondered what happened to….
‘We could find out any time we liked. All you had to do was ask.’
Come on then, G. We haven’t time to write a short story, it’ll have to be a long one.
*Let’s not dwell on the overcrowded lower shelves of books waiting to be read. Too tempting. Some of the books which inspire me are on an imaginary shelf at the Goodreads , if you're curious.