Inspiration Sleet And The Stories I Love
Updated: May 28
Allow Me To Share Something Lighter
When I was younger, articles, poems (lord help us all) and fantastical stories would write themselves inside my mind quite frequently, and often as I was walking somewhere. With my steps as a background metronome, I would listen to the tale unfolding inside my mind, narrated in my own voice, and could visualise the sentences scrolling down as though I were reading them.
Sometimes, for more worthwhile creations, I would try to stop the narration by returning to the start over and over and repeating (in my mind and occasionally out loud like a mumbling fruitcake) the first few lines over and over while I hurried to reach pen and paper. The trick was being able to start physically writing it down before the story finished writing itself between my ears, and vanished into the ether. This strange but wonderful experience still happens occasionally, though not so often since the advent of the brain slusher and IQ guzzler otherwise known as the internet.
I've lost hundreds of narratives, articles, melodies and poems that way. Probably no great loss.
I finally discovered what was going on when I read the Late Great Terry Pratchett on inspiration:
"Little particles of inspiration sleet through the universe all the time traveling through the densest matter in the same way that a neutrino passes through a candyfloss haystack, and most of them miss. Even worse, most of the ones that hit the exact cerebral target, hit the wrong one. For example, the weird dream about a lead doughnut on a mile-high gantry, which in the right mind would have been the catalyst for the invention of repressed-gravitational electricity generation (a cheap and inexhaustible and totally non-polluting form of power which the world in question had been seeking for centuries, and for the lack of which it was plunged into a terrible and pointless war) was in fact had by a small and bewildered duck."
Particles of inspiration bouncing off my immature brain? Of course!
Just think, if I'd been Mary Shelley and those particular particles had found me, I'd probably be rich and famous by now and you'd be following me on Instagram as I posted poignant pictures of me staring off into space, pretending to be humble and modest, and only following back ten people.
Inspiration sleet does still occasionally smack into the three-pound processor between my ears, but sometimes I need a little more of a nudge.
The parameters of writing can be so wide your creativity withers on the vine. Inspiration occasionally benefits from a bit of structure. Which is to say if you offer me a challenge to write a short story about anything, anything at all I would like to write about, my mind goes into a repeating loop of ummmm.
Whereas if you tell me to write you a short story that must involve a Black Book, you end up with this:
I bashed that out in a couple of hours, and I still think it's not a bad wee fable.
Then there's this, a personal favourite, which came to me as I was painting a garage roller door, a most inconvenient time as I had to stop what I was doing and put the first few paragraphs down, or risk losing it altogether:
I have a faint fascination with the paranormal. I'd really love to believe there's more to life than the material world around us, and I have experienced a few things in my life that would indicate I might be right. I suppose, one day (and hopefully not soon), I'll find out, one way or the other.
Meanwhile, I've written these two pieces touching on the paranormal:
And I've just completed a short fantasy story called "Lightfoot The Fabulist", and am putting the finishing touches to it before sharing it with you here. It was inspired by two #vss365 prompts on Twitter.
Every day the writing community on Twitter offers you a Very Short Story prompt, and sometimes I join in the fun. In this case, the parameters of creativity inspired a whole new character in my mind.
I do find short story writing, whether fiction or memoir based, much easier and honestly more satisfying than well-sourced, difficult, carefully researched articles banging my latest drum.
So maybe I should write more of them.
And maybe I will.
Alison Tennent, Queensland, Australia, May 2021
Copyright Alison Tennent 2021, all rights reserved. Scottish by birth, upbringing and bloodline, Australian by citizenship. If you’re reading this anywhere but The Garrulous Glaswegian, Vocal+ or Medium, this work may have been plagiarized.
Wishing you, fellow traveller, fair winds and a following sea: