Friday, 18 April 2008

Inspiration From Unlikely Sources

A common question I hear when I tell people I'm a writer is "What other writers inspire you?"
My answer: "None."

I don't get inspiration from other writers. Oh, I learn a lot from them, about how to create atmosphere or how to show something about a character or situation without coming out and saying it directly, but what really gets me wanting to write is observing the work of great artists in other fields. The paintings of Otto Dix or the sculptures of Rodin make me want to sit down and write. Maybe it's because I'm hopeless at painting and sculpture. I don't know how they do it, and it gives me that sense of wonder I've lost with reading. A director I met said that his job had taken the magic out of movies for him. I'm afraid I feel a bit the same about reading now. I see the mechanics too well.

One of the most inspiring artists I've seen was Jeff Mills, one of the godfathers of techno, at a Lost festival in London. For four hours this guy was at the turntables weaving fantastic music and was so focused he only looked up twice, once when some idiot climbed up on a speaker and knocked it over, and another time when he did this great buildup and he looked out at the audience and smiled, knowing he'd outdone even himself. It was a second of indulgence in four hours of intense concentration. Seeing that kind of talent and dedication got me writing all the next day.

And by next next day, I mean the day after the next, since I slept through most of the next day. But still, it was inspiring.

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Looking for more from Sean McLachlan? He also hangs out on the Civil War Horror blog, where he focuses on Civil War and Wild West history.

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