I take immense pleasure in listening to author interviews and hearing about what inspires them. Occasionally, I take something significant from one of these creative soirees.
In an interview, Neil Gaiman suggested that Tolkien was able to write The Lord of the Rings because he read about Finnish philology. This might not make any sense at all, but it also might make sense absolutely. His writing was born out of what he loved to read and his reading lead him a lot of places. Of course he would invent languages, he studied them. He loved Nothernness and out of that love came Aragon and Elves and Rohan. He didn’t just read fantasy and rehash another fantasy story (I know I know he basically invented modern fantasy, but there was plenty out there).
Mr. Gaimans’ suggestion to would be authors is to read books about all sorts of things. Take a winding path through your local independent bookstore and visit genres and sections you haven’t before. You might be surprised by what you find.
While on a plane last week I read a book titled 1491 by Charles Mann, which hypothesizes what the Americas might have been like before Columbus bumped into them. Suddenly, without intention, all sorts of inspiration came to me.
What would it be like it one of the Inca people saw a plane? This might be a common thought, (traveling back in time to meet cavemen for example) but it might not have been as profound if I was not on an actual jetliner reading that particular book.
I’m not sure where this venture into other books and topics might take me, but it’s inspiring. I hope you don’t inbreed your writing or try to imitate an author you like but chase after what interests you. I am sure that out of this pursuit will come a book that is you. Not some cheap imitation.
Read something new today.