Writing inspiration can come from the strangest of places. Or perhaps I’m just now getting used to the writer’s eye.
I often feel like an impostor and wonder if I’m kidding myself by thinking I’m a writer. Am I good enough? Am I delusional? Is this all some childish dream?
Earlier this month though, something happened that made me truly feel like a writer.
A couple of weeks ago I was on holiday in Italy, staying in the small, coastal town of Trieste, nestled in the north-eastern sliver of land that curves around the Adriatic and brushes up against Slovenia and Croatia.
It was a relaxing get-away for my boyfriend and I, and a chance to escape the stresses of work and everyday life. We were flying from a London airport so we had a long train journey on top of our actual flight and time to waste in airport lounges.
Naturally, I took a notebook and pen (and a spare, and then about 10 spare spares in case somehow they all ran out), thinking to use those hours to work on a project I’ve been thinking about for a while, but haven’t found much time to focus on.
I got some work done though, as usual, not as much as I wanted. That much I expected.
What I didn’t expect was to find myself looking at places as settings. Almost subconsciously I found myself trying to record every detail of a place – how it looked, smelled and felt and how it made me feel – then filing away little snippets of sentences as I tried to put those details into words in my head.
It made me feel like a writer.
More so than pulling out my notebook and scribbling away on the train, more so than posting short stories on my blog and even more so than outlining story boards for Real Actual Novels™.
It was the mindset that did it. Seeing the world from a certain perspective. And it felt very special.
One place it was particularly strong was when we visited Grotta Gigante. The name literally translates to Giant Cave and it really was… a giant cave. But really going down there was something entirely different to seeing photos or imagining being in a cave.
You could feel the cold and the humidity on your skin as you descended and the world transformed. I was awed as the cavernous space opened up in front of me.
Shadows danced around the thousands of stalactites and stalagmites and I could imagine eyes hiding in those shadows, watching as a lone figure descended into chamber.
As I looked around shapes seemed to form in the rocks; gaping jaws of long, sharp teeth, animals crouched, ready to pounce and monsters prowling, long-forgotten in the depths.
I suddenly knew one of my characters would come here and then I was not descending a touristy cave, but into the lair of my story’s villains: a mysterious and deadly race of supernatural creatures.
I tried to soak up every detail, every feeling I had walking down into that cave and couldn’t wait to describe it from the eyes of that character.
It was an intense and wonderful feeling, and I can’t wait to find my next unexpected inspiration.
(These pictures really don’t do this place justice but believe me, in person it was breathtaking!)