Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Where Do You Find Your Muse?

First of all, a HUGE apology to my fellow bloggers for missing my last post date. I'm very sorry.

For today, I'm going to pose a question. Where do you find your muse? I don't mean when she's lost. I mean from where do you find your inspiration? When I see this question in interviews or blogs, the answers are always stock - music, "everywhere," art, a snatch of conversation, or from people watching. And while I agree with each of those and have gleaned story or character ideas from all of the above - sometimes more than one at a time - I'd like to explore this further.

We recently took a trip to New York City for my daughter's 21st birthday. It was exhausting but fun! We took her to the Met (both the Opera and the Art Museum!), to the Gerswhin to see Wicked and to the Majestic to see Phantom. We visited Times Square and ate at both chain and local restaurants. We stayed in Midtown on the East Side so we were within walking distance of everything we planned to see and do.

My muse was on overload, even though I was so tired I didn't get any writing done. From the cab rides to the myriad of languages and accents all around me, the constant construction, horns honking and sirens wailing, all the way to more black boots than I've ever seen in one place and fake Burberry scarves on every corner.

There was the woman with the walking boot who told me she didn't bring her crutches to Wicked because "Can you imagine what the people sitting next to me would say?" I found this odd because in Nashville at TPAC the person sitting next to her would have said something along the lines of "Bless your heart, you poor thing!" and would have held her crutches for her during the performance.

I had a pleasant conversation with one of our housekeepers in the hotel elevator as we rode up to our floor with her, bags of dirty laundry, and her housekeeping cart. Her names was Rosa, she's always lived in NYC, and told me "no one here sleeps." I have to agree with Rosa. No one in NYC sleeps. We didn't either. :)

Friday night as we walked back to the hotel from the Gershwin we passed the NBC building at Rockefeller Center to see people lined up already, intending to spend the night, in the hopes of scoring stand-by tickets to SNL the following night. While on the NBC Studios Tour that very morning, we were told it's nearly impossible to score tickets and people literally wait years for them by mail, but every Saturday morning a crowd forms hoping for rare stand-by tickets.

A carriage ride would have cost us $100 for 20 minutes. And that was only around Times Square! We never even saw Central Park, except to pass it in a cab on our way home from the art museum.

The hot dog vendors don't only sell hot dogs. They sell hot pretzels, beverages, kielbasa, and every imaginable topping for your dog or sausage sandwich. The smells coming from the carts were enough to make me hungry even if we passed one on the way back from a restaurant.

People in NYC theaters take pictures during the show and inside the theaters despite the warnings not to. People text during performances. Not much different from home. :)

No one makes eye contact for long, and strangers don't smile at you on the street. In fact, if someone is making contact or smiling, they're trying to sell you something or are homeless and begging for money. I don't know if it was because we weren't in the right neighborhoods, but we saw fewer homeless people than when we were in Chicago.

St Patrick's Cathedral is breathtaking. I can't even describe it. The one thing I did find both amusing and slightly disturbing was the roped-off "media" platform. Oh, and there are two gift shops. :)

There are two ways to get to LaGuardia. One is slower and will cost you about $10 more, but you do have a lovely view from several bridges as you cross the East River. The other will get you there in about 15 minutes on a Sunday morning, and you get the experience of driving in a two lane tunnel with small orange cones separating the lanes, at roughly 60 mph, under the East River. I liked them both. :)

Speaking of cabbies, most of them were really nice, surprisingly safe drivers, and had no trouble taking us where we needed to go. Only one had no clue where our hotel was and it was a good thing we'd been there a couple of days already so I could tell him it was between Lexington and 3rd.

The black boots, you ask? All the women wear black boots and other assorted black clothing, with a fake Burberry scarf, of course. And they're all thin. I know why. There are stairs everywhere, and they walk everywhere. Plus the food is ridiculously expensive so I suspect most of them don't eat much. :)

I think I'll need at least a month to write down everything I saw, smelled, tasted, heard and experienced. I do know my muse was working overtime, and I'm grateful for the trip.

How about you? Any overload experiences you'd like to tell me about?


  1. Sensory overload = muse overload for a writer! ;)
    So envious of your holiday, and glad you had a great time.
    I could answer your question about where AD gets their inspiration, but I think you already know the answer to that... !

  2. I have gotten more than a few story germs from dreams. Otherwise, there's no telling where that stuff comes from!

  3. Hey Adonis, yes I know where you get your inspiration. :)

  4. Your trip sounds fun.

    Believe it or not, most my inspiration comes from my experiences.

    A few years back we had a winter storm and lost power for a few days. My novel Dark Bringer came from me suddenly realizing how much I relied on electricity.

  5. Oh Brenda I love that story! What a great experience that must have been. :)