Thursday, July 28, 2011

Hotdogs & Spiders: creations of the muse or reality?

When I’m writing and come up with something that makes a scene shine and feels unique, I like to think it came from thin air, from a muse or some magical well of inspiration. But often--much like with dreams--I discover the real source of the inspiration is something much closer to home.

Last week, I wrote a scene where the only thing left in the fridge for breakfast was hotdogs. Personally, I hate hotdogs and the thought of chopping uncooked hotdogs into a bowl, covering them with milk and eating them like cereal is disgusting.

However when I finished the scene I was hungry, so I headed downstairs to make my breakfast. And, to my disgust and surprise, there was my husband standing by the fridge with a raw hotdog hanging out of his mouth like a cigar. I’d probably seen him do this a million times and shoved the image to the back of my mind—until my main character opened that nearly empty fridge and reached for her breakfast.

Then came the spiders.  

I have a scene in my WIP where a not so human character is laying on her four-poster bed watching spiders spin a canopy over it. Creepy and perfect, I thought as I turned off my computer and headed for my four-poster bed . . . Yeah, you guessed it.  

Last winter, I had a spider invasion that I had totally forgotten about. Every night when I went to bed, I’d look up and there’d be a couple of them glaring down at me from the ceiling. And it seemed last winter’s invasion had started again. While I was writing, my mind had registered a new web stretching from my headboard to the ceiling.

What about you? How often do you discover that your creative ideas have a basis in reality, even if you’ve temporarily blocked it from your mind?

For extra credit or if you’re simply curious about why spiders are inside your house, check this out.


  1. I've never noticed, and now I'm so curious! I'll have to pay attention as I start working on my next novel. Of course, what you've also shown is the leap needed to take something mundane and make it noteworthy. Hotdogs as a cereal substitute? Someone who enjoys watching spiders spin a canopy on her bed? Those are definitely ideas which pop up into the stratosphere and leave the mundane behind!

  2. Reality only better. I wrote a microfiction piece about a kid who hates gym, is always picked last for teams, and gets massacred during dodge ball. In the end, the tables are turned. In real life - not so much. That's the beauty of fiction.

    Oh, and I can't wait to share that spider link with my sister, who thinks she is so much kinder for putting spiders "back outside." Interesting link. Thanks.

  3. Wow! Great link. And all my fiction has a basis in reality. All of it.

    Oddly, I find the scenes I completely make up are the ones people think have happened to me and the ones I rip off from well-remembered experience don't seem as real.

  4. I plunge into the world of my stories, going so far as to attend real-life open houses to pick places for my characters to live. I bet they sneak into my reality more than I realize. The house spider link is fascinating! Also, I'm at:

  5. I'm glad you guys like the link. I was particularly curious about why spiders always hang out in bathtubs. You know, you're all naked and wet, and one goes scooting up your leg :O

    I laughed about the dodge ball, inlovewithwords. You're so right.

  6. This happens to me a lot too. It's kind of funny, and I'll never turn down material that I can use in a story.

  7. Crap. Now I want a hot dog. . . .