I shared my Inspirations Song List today as I’d updated it (Songs that Inspired Stories), then joked that I should make a list of stories that started from collisions. Not literally — although I do have one or two of those — but collisions of ideas.
Example: later this month Empty Mirror will publish my essay ‘Chaucer and the Art of the Grift’ which came from a collision in my head between The Canon’s Yeoman’s Tale and David Maurer’s The Big Con. It makes perfect sense to me but maybe this is why I have a hard time getting people to follow my thoughts. Possibly they seem random and incoherent!
But they seem reasonable to me. Here’s a random selection of things what I have written and the collisions from which they sprang:
The Mangrove Legacy: Peter Cook & Jane Austen
White Rabbit: Blue Sunshine & Seance on a Wet Afternoon & certain London pubs
How to Be Dull: academia & Jerome K. Jerome
Airships & Alchemy: <— exactly that
Owl Stretching: The Descent of Inanna & Spike Milligan
‘Elf Prefix’: The Maltese Falcon & The Fairy Melusine
‘Headless in Bury’: The Big Sleep & vikings
‘Wordgeryne’: Lovecraft and medieval charms
‘Losing My Religion’: REM, Tony Hancock & social media debates
“Domus inferna Sancti Guthlaci: A Rediscovery of the Twelfth-Century Narrative of The Saint and the Money Pit”: my Pseudo-Society talk that sprang from rearranging the Harley Roll illustrations of the life of the saint so they became a sort of DIY disaster
…and of course there’s a whole random Fall song + whatever random obsession has fired in my brain this week which covers most of my crime writing that isn’t currently inspired by Robyn Hitchcock.
It’s not just me, right?
[Image from the Cosmagraphia Scoti MS. Canon. Misc. 378 via Bodleian Library]
I suppose it’s true that I wouldn’t know what to do with myself if I weren’t busy; it’s usually the pleasant state of having a head full of stories and ideas that I am trying to make manifest. But I had a couple of things of a more serious nature — or at least a less fun one — and it’s amazing how suddenly “busy” can mean “too busy to do the things I want to be doing.”
My own fault: I am learning to say no.
All the time in Texas where I worked feverishly to get out of Texas left an anxiety that I have gradually tamed, as my skill at Plants vs. Zombies demonstrates. It’s a balance between having options (i.e. showing expertise and knowledge) and having fun. I realise that ‘fun’ is associated in many minds with ‘frivolous’ but I think it’s just part of having a good life. And isn’t that what an unstructured time like a sabbatical is meant to be for?
Oh, yes — research and writing. It is happening. I hope to have good news on the masculinities & medieval film project soon, and I have some new proposals going off soon. But this summer is also fun writing and even a slight delay of a few days (mostly because I was dragging my feet complaining) had me champing at the bit to get back to my created worlds.
That and my publishers 😉
Finland bound on Wednesday, but always thinking about Alice — and now my current favourite Alice, an Alice who gets things done: