I wrote a post the other day on Facebook about inspiration coming from the most unexpected places, and I've now decided that it comes, in fact, from every place. Anything you do, see, hear, smell or read can spark an idea. So can everybody you know.
Because I've now been lucky enough to live in the same community for more than 30 years, I know a lot of people in my little town. Unfortunately, I'm terrible at putting names to faces, so whenever one of them stops to chat at the store, I smile and nod and then whisper to my wife, "Who was that?" Still, I can open the local phone book and find someone I know on every single page.
No, I don't live in Mayberry, although one of these days I'll write a blog on Thelma Lou's cousins. My community is bigger than Mayberry. It had about 72,000 citizens at the last census, and I know at least ten percent of them by name.
Don't get me wrong. I don't actively socialize with 7,000 people. In fact, given the choice, I wouldn't socialize with anyone. I'm a hermit at heart. Blissful solitude is its own reward. So how do I know all of these people? Connections. No, not social media connections, but real-life connections. I've met them in the course of my work. Or at church. Or because their kids and my kids know each other. And, yes, I suppose I came to know some of them through social media. All of them inspire me in one way or another. And they will all eventually find their way into my writing.
Currently, I'm working on a short story inspired by a rodent. The connection there is Greg, the local pet store owner, who sold the rodent to my wife. The introduction of the rodent into our household sparked an idea. That idea germinated in my mind for a few days and is now being fleshed out into a story. Not a true story, but a piece of fiction.
My 7-year-old daughter recently saw a movie that was "based on a true story," so now she wants to know if every movie she watches "really happened." The answer is usually, "No, it's just make-believe." But perhaps the better answer would be, "If real people and real things inspired the writer to create the story, then maybe, it is true."