Inspiration for my writing can spring from the weirdest of places and as a writer, you need to constantly be asking ‘what if?’
Over Christmas I ordered a personalised iPad cover. That’s the one on the left. Instead, the one on the right arrived – for the wrong Rebecca. A simple mix-up, but I was immediately intrigued (after recoiling at the unforgiveable spelling of karaoke!) Who exactly was this Other Rebecca? It felt a bit like I’d stolen her life. What if we were to swap lives? Gin and fish are two things I loathe and my karaoke days died along with my job as a holiday rep. What about the mysterious Mr Webster? Is he a partner, a man worshipped from afar or even a dog? Is there a story there? The Other Rebecca would doubtless hate my life too. Presumably she was sent my iPad cover in error: dogs, tea, Coronation Street, writing … (it really is as boring as it looks and she probably thought: bloody hell, at least my life isn’t as bad as hers is!) We are both creative but what brand is her creativity? Does she knit or paint or is she just creative with the truth?
There was definitely enough material here for a short story and possibly a novel. The idea of life-swap isn’t a new one but the idea of stepping into someone else’s ready made life always fascinates. What if I tracked Other Rebecca down? Is she really a gin-soaked, fish-eating box set fanatic extrovert? Would we be friends or would the hackles rise on sight? And I do really want to know who Mr Webster is. Eventually the correct iPad case was sent but the mystery lived on in my imagination.
There are so many elements of everyday life that can light of touchpaper of a writer’s inspiration. Overheard conversations, newspaper articles, chance meetings, something on the TV. Life is a very rich seam to be mined. On my dreadful commute to the Day Job I often scrutinise the weary faces of my fellow travellers and wonder about their lives, hopes, regrets and secrets. And the Day Job itself is a great source of material, soon to be a book if I can finally make 2015 the year I turn my work in progress into a physical novel rather than a rough draft. Watch this space!