Hi guys! Hope the revision is going well :)
As you may remember, we had an Inspiration Week a while ago and here are the things people shared – thought I’d upload it so it’s all nice and uploaded for archiving and future inspiration :)
Nina Lindmark Lie
So I’ve had a week of some inspiration-hunting, since I couldn’t exactly pinpoint any particular sources of inspiration I normally have. Basically what I found can be summarised to ‘new impressions’ (a bit dull, but still). My week has consisted of visiting a lot of museums and exhibitions (like the uni’s Ingenious Impressions, The Hunterian and very modern Design exhibit in Edinburgh) the Botanics, and a fair amount of creepy people watching. Especially travelling and visiting busy places like museum I find rather inspiring. Mainly cuz they’re full of creative stuff, and doing new things helps me find ideas, or offers a slightly different scenery from my everyday life. Fingers crossed for some sunny days and more walks around Glasgow.
New favourite film?
Eva Ibbotson is one of my inspirations. Her books remind me of my childhood and I think helped shape my current writing style. They are a little creepy and a lot quirky
My (somewhat random) inspirations…
Angela Carter, The Bloody Chamber (1979)
My favourite story from Carter’s collection is probably ‘The Lady of the House of Love’. All her tales play with darkness and sexuality and appetite, questioning the boundaries between human and animal. I love the way she plays with fairy stories and animal characters, and she taught me that it’s perfectly okay to use intensely ornate, coruscating prose, if it serves a purpose.
Legend of Zelda, Majora’s Mask (2000)
This game is so creepy and grotesque and wonderful. The graphics seem a little blotchy now, but it adds to a kind of cardboard, fairytale aesthetic. The whole set-up of the game is basically to do with a moon that’s going to fall and crush a town within three days; three days you have to solve a lot of puzzles and defeat the uncanny mask dude that runs about. Everything is very anthropomorphic and strange, and the dissonant music adds to this. The play between surface, colour and texture is interesting because people often seem oddly flat, and the town feels really claustrophobic. I think it’s inspiring for its aesthetic and narrative, and just the whole weird ambience it creates.
Tom McCarthy, Remainder (2005)
This is a very strange novel. The narrator does not seem so much human as a human reciting what it is to deal with emotion and trauma, in a very machinic sense. It plays with all sorts of conventions and disturbs expectations, and in a way is very Ballardian. It taught me that novels don’t have to be extravagantly ‘postmodern’ to challenge conventions of realism, and also how to play with notions of traditional ‘character’.
Muse, Origin of Symmetry (2001)
Old-school Muse are truly mind-boggling. They still are, but I feel like they have become a little bit kitsch in recent years, with their extravagant symphonies and so on. This album has some crazy lyrics, like:
And my plug in baby
Crucifies my enemies
When I’m tired of giving
Yeah, I think you probably have to be on mushrooms to understand that one. There’s a whole kind of shivery vividness to all the guitar on this, especially when it is at its most searing (Hyper Music) or delicate, and also Matt Bellamy’s voice, achingly beautiful on the cover of Feeling Good, dark and melancholy on Citizen Erased and Screenager, and a bit mental on Plug in Baby. I guess I listen to this album when I want something to fire an electric shock in my mind and clear away the excess. I also wish I could enter the weird space that the music creates, or find some way to do that with writing. The video for Plug in Baby is also very unsettling, with lots of tentacles floating about and women being plugged into machines and things. Stuff being turned inside out; abjection.
Dodie Smith, I Capture the Castle (1948)
You know those books you read when you are about eleven and you can’t stop re-reading them? This was one of them for me. It’s a beautifully written bildungsroman about a young girl in a somewhat dysfunctional family trying to make do in a crumbling castle, while her father descends into alcoholism and her sister marries the wrong man. It’s about falling in love and growing up and appreciating the little things, and being loyal and good to people. I admire it mostly for the emotional eloquence and the way Smith captures the narrator’s voice so well, but also just love how she evokes the whole world of the castle and the family with such poetic detail.
Sylvia Plath, Collected Poems.
I didn’t really ‘get’ poetry until I read Sylvia Plath. I know it’s a cliche to admit, but it was the first poetry that really spoke to me in some dark and never-understandable way. Sometimes I get bored of it now, but other times I read it again and the freshness of some of her images really strikes me. Read ‘Berck – Plage’ and ‘Sheep in Fog’. I guess its her imagery that I like best, but also she has a way with concision that I could probably learn from.
William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Lyrical Ballads. (1798)
I love these two because basically they can teach you all you need to know about nature and imagination. Well, sort of. I have a nostalgic relationship with them because it reminds me of first year and trying to sort out how the hell to read and write about poetry. Wordsworth basically invented the way we see and write poetry today; not as an imitation of an ideal form but a crafted ‘expression’ of individual thought and perception. It also makes me appreciate little bits of nature, though in a different way from how Emily Bronte makes me want to go to the countryside and run breathless through fields in the rain.
This entire film inspired most of my recent writing but especially this opening scene:
‘Alice: Madness Returns’ is a video game based on Lewis Carroll’s work. Wonderland is surreal and disturbing, and the game’s soundtrack and artwork are stunning. WARNING: the clip I’ve linked has some violence and gore (albeit animated).
Angela Carter’s ‘The Bloody Chamber’ is a gorgeous collection of short re-imaginings of fairytales with plenty of horror, sexual content and awesome feminism.
‘Nothing Much to Do’ is modern vlog adaptation of Shakespeare’s ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ created by a team of pre-dominantly New Zealand young artists.
It’s hilarious and heart-breaking, and I love re-inventions of old narratives using new mediums.
I use dictionaries, both online and offline.
Offline- I own the dictionary of mythology, dictionary of phrase and fable and a dictionary of quotations. All pretty cool just for browsing.
Here we go then.
The idea of writing for children about science came to me rather recently.
“The Pleasure of Finding Things Out” by Richard Feynman.
It’s a biography about an amazing 20th century physicist. There was a chapter where he talked about his childhood, when his father used to explain all sorts of things through telling stories. That was the moment when I thought “well, if it worked for one person and he ended up getting a Nobel prize in Physics, maybe I could many other people in a similar way?”.
Terry Pratchett’s series about Tiffany Aching (4 books) showed me the importance of dialogue. His fantasy world also provoked quite a lot of thoughts and ideas. That’s what books do to you – you start living in an imaginary world of Nac Mac Feegles, witches and other sorts of creatures.
There is this Lithuanian author Vytautas V. Landsbergis. He wrote a book called “Rudnosiukio istorijos” (direct translation: Brown Noses’s Stories). The book is about a creature called Rudnosiukas which lives in an imaginary world. In a sense the world represented the social, economical and political situation of Lithuania. It’s hard to explain, but when reading I actually saw a lot of cultural cues which in a sense showed how everything changed during 25 years of independence. It’s full of optimism, funny and absurd situations, pure foolishness (the main character was always represented as foolish [in a good way]), irony, satire and so on. The writing style was rather similar to mine, but a lot better. And you know when there are books you wished to have written first? This is definitely that one for me.
Other times I find inspiration through studying physics, watching science related videos, taking a walk and just asking question “why”. It’s an amazing feeling when you ask, what it seems, an easy questions, but in the end it’s really complicated and you have to spend some time to find the answer.
And I’ll end this with a video, food for thought.