Friday, August 27, 2010

What a beautiful day... looking around you for inspiration

The morning seems to have covered the world in bright silver light. The sun isn't technically shining, but the clouds are just translucent enough to allow us to look through them at the blue above. Today, the air  smells fresh and all feels well. Days like this just make me feel happy.

Of course, part of the reason lies in the fact that I won't be leaving my apartment until noon, so there's very little that can go wrong until then, barring (touch wood) burst water pipes, messing tomato sauce on my flatmate's expensive beige carpet etc.

Don't morning like this just inspire you to write something?

When something like is different about nature, I try to stare at it often and for long periods of time. I want to remember what it was like, because it will never be like that again, unless I somehow manage to awaken it in the reader's imagination.

Sadly I can't really spend too much words explaining why the morning just before sunrise is particularly pretty. If you want to know, I seriously suggest you wake up early and see. If you're the kind of person that stops to smell the flowers, it will blow your mind.

Which neatly brings me to my point. If you want to write, you have to learn how to notice the small things around you. To me the reasons are rather complex.

Like I said, noticing mother nature can help you to explain how she looks and works. If, and that's a big if, you notice her and think about what you noticed. That's what I did at the beginning of my post. Those were the words that were running around my mind since I looked out the window. They might seem sparse, but they are enough. I'll remember the feeling the morning gave me, how it looked, and I will be able to write about it later.

Then, the people around you are mines of inspiration for your characters. Firstly, you can look at them physically. How do they walk? What do they look like? I've stolen one character's mop of dark hair from a passer by. I also inserted the wicked sparkle in his eyes.

Of greater use to me is looking at people from a writer's perspective. In other words, as if they are the characters in a (your?) book. How do they talk? How do they interact with friends? People they don't know? People below their social standing? People above their social standing? What do they say?

I mean, what are they really saying? I was friends with someone that shared my passion for books and movies and the friendship grew despite our many differences. All of my friends know that I tend to have a dark, somewhat bitter and a very snarky wit. Because of this, I don't mind if people turn similar wit on me. In fact I relish sharp senses of humour. Anyway, I eventually moved into this friend's building and we became neighbors.

Something began to niggle, so I turned my author-like attention onto her personality. I inspected her interactions with others. I inspected her interaction with me.

I found the fundamental difference between us. My wit is used to laugh with people, sometimes about their and especially my own faults. Most of the time we just snark about what one of us said and it turns into a session of verbal sparring. I love it. It keeps me on my toes and my feet on the ground. 

On the other hand, she was using her wit to laugh at people. She was essentially breaking people down and disguising it under a veil of humour. On inspection, I couldn't even say she did it per accident because she crossed the line without knowing it. She knew exactly what she was doing. I particularly noticed that she targeted me in front of people. Kind of makes you think of school, right?

To sum it up, she was trying to hurt my confidence in order to make her look and feel good in front of others. Big mistake. I have been born with boundless confidence. Or maybe it was my mom telling me I'm special all the time. But I don't tolerate bullies. I also don't deal well with stupidity.

People trying to bully me are stupid... and therefore deserve any and all retaliation I send their way. Don't worry, I didn't go down to her level. I beat her simply by outmatching her wit at every turn.

I eventually moved out due to problems with my landlord. She actually asked whether it was because she hurt my feelings. I burst out laughing and stated categorically that she couldn't get to my confidence if she tried. I smiled sweetly and walked away from her. The friendship faded away after that.

I included this anecdote for two reasons. One is to illustrate what I meant. People say things. And then they say things. Authors that master that in dialogue are light years ahead.

The other is to serve as a warning. If you doubt that your friendships will survive closer inspection and if you care for those friendships, DO NOT ANALYSE YOUR FRIENDS!!! Along with all the good things about the person, you'll pick up on the dark undercurrents to them as well. It's natural. All people have a dark side. I clearly showed part of my dark side to you. I can be incredibly ruthless, if I want to be.

I just don't want to be. Even with the friend from above, I stayed reasonably nice, because I don't want to be that person. That doesn't mean that Misha the ruthless puppet master doesn't exist or that she doesn't appear sometimes. I keep her muzzled. Firmly. But she's there. And I'm sure that anyone looking for her will find her. Just so all people have their personality faults.

In away that is what makes us interesting people. If we didn't have the dark side, we would have been bland. The difference between people who are fundamentally nice-ish and those that aren't is merely the choice they make as to whether they'll embrace the dark side of their personality. (Insert scary Darth Vader breathing here)

Grr... basically what I'm saying is this: If you dig for the bad stuff, you will find it. Why? Because it is always there. Scarily enough, it's not even deeply hidden. Why? Because most people you interact with don't bother to look.

But looking at people this way can alter how you perceive them for the rest of your life. Sometimes it's for the better. Other times it's for the worse. And it's your job as the person doing the inspection to make sure that you are willing to put the relationship on the line. If you are not, don't do it. End of story.

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