Sparks of Inspiration

“Where do you get your idea’s from?”

Now there is a question that writers get asked so often it has become proverbial, if not a full-blown cliche. It’s one of those things that aspiring writers ask the experienced writers almost constantly. Join any writers group on facebook and if more than a few days go by without someone asking ‘that question’ I will eat my top hat. Yet it is a question that has always struck me as a strange one to ask if you aspire to be a writer because it has been answered so many times. As such I occasionally find myself wondering how anyone aspires to be a writer without knowing the answer because absolutely every writer I have ever met answers it in much the same way. Here’s a clue from the estimable Mr King of Maine…


That is, in part, the secret. While I am certain, it is not the answer some of those aspiring writers want to hear (some not all, plenty of them have no problem ‘doing the work’). Some, however, no doubt want to know the real secret, the golden scarab beetle secret, the secret of which ancient god to sacrifice the soul of their unborn child to, the secret of which way you need to walk around the standing stones at Kinross on midsummers eve in order to gain the secret whispers of the fair folk… You know, the actual secret of where idea’s come from… The one we are not telling them.

Well, for those who want to know that secret, the real secret, here it is…

“We read a lot!” 

Sorry if you were hoping for something else but that at the end of the day is the honest to goodness truth of it.

Of course what we read, well maybe that’s the real, real secret…

With that in mind, here is my current reading list of books on my desk at home I am in the process of reading, be that fully or in a ‘dipping in and out’ way, just to give you an idea of the mix of fiction and non-fiction I am reading at any given time…

  • Brewsters Dictionary of Phrase and Fable (which no writer should be without)
  • Schott’s Original Miscellany ~ Ben Schott
  • The Hero With A Thousand Faces ~ Joseph Campbell
  • The madness of crowds and popular delusions ~ Charles MacKay (because, tulips)
  • The complete H Rider Haggard ~ H R Haggard
  • Gail Carriger’s ~ Alexia Trabonetti novels (because they’re so fun)
  • A Complete History Of Nearly Everything ~ Bill Bryson
  • The Complete H P Lovecraft ~ H P Lovecraft (big surprise there I am sure)
  • A Short History of the Steam Engine ~ Henry Winram Dickinson
  • Unmentionable ~ The Victorian Lady’s Guide to Sex, Marriage and Manners ~ Therese Oneil (which is highly illuminating, and mildly terrifying)
  • The Faber Book of Exploration ~ Benedict Allen (which was a wonderful find)

When I said ‘read a lot’, I was not underselling…


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