Swim, Swim Little Fishies

Where do your ideas come from? When I hear this question, a mantra strikes up in my head. It goes something like this:

‘They’re my ideas and you can’t have them.’

It plays on repeat and is often accompanied by an overwhelming urge to laugh maniacally whilst gnawing on my forearm.

Then I get over myself.

Honestly, no-one is trying to steal my ideas. Well maybe that guy is – the one slavering over my answer, pencil poised over his notebook – but I know about him.

Paranoia dealt with, I contemplate the possibility that people are genuinely interested in my answer. And I have to admit, if I were in a Q & A with someone whose work I found stupefyingly different (in a good way), I’d be the first to shoot my hand up and ask that self same question. I’d even swallow the embarrassment of being such a blatant fan-girl, at least until someone else was chosen to ask a question.

So, just on the off-chance that someone out there might want to know, here is a guest blog I wrote for Margaret River Press, which talks about how one of my stories came about.

The secret is that there are no secrets. But there are some rules that I follow. Well more guidelines than rules, but you get the idea.

Because the things I find inspiring come from myriad places, and I have a memory like a sieve, I make it my business to record things.

The clown pictured above is a prime example. He’s strung up in the front yard of a house just around the corner from where I live. I’ve played with the contrast, brightness and colours in the image, but the day I took the photo was overcast, the colours much more muted. The olive jumpsuit looked more khaki, the rusty spots appeared brown. In my mind’s eye, this clown was wearing combat fatigues.

Three things interested me straight off the bat.

First, the clown left outside in the elements made me think that regardless of circumstances clowns often appear falsely happy. Coupled with that, the fact that the face was turned away from the street, perhaps hiding his truer feelings. And lastly, the idea that this clown had also served in the armed forces.

So far I haven’t found the clown’s story, and I may never, but he’s there, in the periphery, if I need him.

My advice? Hoard anything and everything you find interesting. Doesn’t matter if it’s a particular speech pattern, a weird picture, an obscure or just plain wrong use of words (advertising signs are great for this in that they often don’t mean what they are supposed to). Record it.

When you get home, pool all those little fish together. Let them swim, maybe breed because the deeper your pool, the more likely your hybrid babies will be viable.

3 thoughts on “Swim, Swim Little Fishies

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