What inspires me? At any given moment...almost anything. A snippet of a lyric. A line from a book or movie. A moment of conversation with a friend. Now you may think that's a copout, but it's the truth. Small moments can yield pearls.
For example, I was out with friends listening to my favorite band from eastern Iowa, Wylde Nept. I've been a fan for ten years and have heard their songs many times. They were trying out some new material one night and they played a new tune called So, So Cold. I fell in love. Not with the singer (even though he's cute). No, with the song and the idea that hit me in the head based on the lyrics of the song. Now, there's this thing called copyright so I can't use their lyrics but I can let them inspire me. I've not written the story yet, but it's brewing in the back of my mind just waiting for the moment I set it to paper.
Then there's the name Verite. She's the heroine of the medieval romance I'm writing called Seeking Truth. I was watching the Joan Hickson TV version of Agatha Christie's Nemesis. There's a line in the movie/book where they are describing a dead girl named Verity Hunt. Verity was a shining girl with the absolute faith in redemption of the spirit. I KNEW I had to use that name in my Medieval even though the name Verity didn't come into use in England until the 1600 or 1700s. I spoke to an SCA friend of mine who said someone might have named their daughter Verite (the French word for Truth) though it would have been very unusual. All I needed was the glimmer of hope from someone very familiar with medieval naming practices and I not only had my heroine, I had my title.
Sometimes life is just like that. Even the smallest thought can inspire the kernal of a great idea and when you look for inspiration in the most unlikely places, you'll find it. Just keep your ears open then when you feel the inspiration hit you, make sure you have a pen and paper in your purse so you can write it down somewhere...anywhere! Though inspiration can be fleeting, when it happens everything was worth the wait!
To rephrase poet Robert Herrick:
Gather ye pearls where ye may,
Inspiration needs inviting
And these jewels which shine to-day
To-morrow you may be writing.