An Unlikely Source of Inspiration – Thursday’s Children


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It didn’t take much for the very talented Rhiann Wynn-Nolet to convince me to join the Thursday’s Children weekly blog hop. Write about whatever inspires me? What’s not to like. Plus it has the cutest button, don’t you think?

Well it just so happened the strangest thing inspired me this week.

Our little family went on holiday for a few days to stay with some friends. On the second day we visited this place:

Mowhanau Beach – Wanganui, NZ

It was amazing. The weather was stunning, the water warm, the beach quiet. We explored, swam and hunted for treasures (shells and coloured stones) and the children spent hours building spa pools in the sand (go figure, this is a new generation…).

The Beach at Mowhanau – Wanganui, NZ

It was one of those unforgettable days. In fact I suppose the secluded location, smooth cliffs and dark ironsands were inspiring of themselves. But the real inspiration didn’t come until later that night…

At 12.45am my daughter woke me up.

‘Mummy I’ve just spewked in my bed.’

Yes, that wakes you up in a hurry.

(For the uninitiated spewk is one of her very own words – a combination of spew and puke… or vomit for those of you who are more delicate).

Also, bear in mind we are staying at a friend’s house and our daughter is sharing a room…

So I climb out of bed, bleary-eyed to survey the damage. Fortunately, she has a silky sort of sleeping bag that has taken the fallout and I am able to clean it off relatively easily while our friends remain asleep. However just as I am thinking I’ve dodged a bullet, my son comes barrelling out of the room across the hall and into the toilet (yes I know you American types say bathroom, but I’m a kiwi).

‘Mum I’m gonna be sick…’

And he was.

So imagine it’s the middle of the night and both your children are miserable and they want to be home in their own beds. By the time you finish cleaning everything up with disinfectant it’s 1:30am and the vomiting doesn’t seem to be a oncer…

It’s bad enough being sick at home when you can hide away in a corner. But in someone elses house, where you’re bunking in together and there’s three other children and a baby? And as much as our friends love us, passing on that bug would have been as welcome as, well – a bucket of sick.

How did I feel? Raw, vulnerable and a bit desperate. I hated seeing my precious children feeling so terrible – and felt powerless to do anything about it.

We all wanted to be home, but would they cope with a two hour drive in the wee hours of the morning?

In the end we packed up, said some very apologetic goodbyes and drove off into the night, bolstered by two empty icecream containers, a box of tissues and numerous bottles of water. In all honesty, it was a surreal twilight journey – we drove through thick fog and stopped more times than I care to remember, but the children held up like troopers and we were desperately glad to find our beds somewhere near 4am.

Strangely, this unfortunate end to our holiday inspired a new scene in the WIP.

One of my characters is the mother to a young girl who has caught the attention of a particularly nasty character. For the most part they are insulated by rank and their entourage, but what would happen if the child was too sick to move? And the mother became isolated from her support network? I could imagine exactly how she’d feel – and I think it will really ramp up the tension in the scene.

Will it fly? I’m not sure, but the beautiful thing about writing is every experience can provide inspiration if you’re prepared to keep your mind open to it.

Thanks to Rhiann for encouraging me to participate. I can’t figure out how to put the linky on – so in the meantime jump on over to her beautiful blog A Nest of Words to check it out.

How about you? What unlikely things have fired your creative imagination?

29 thoughts on “An Unlikely Source of Inspiration – Thursday’s Children

  1. Okay, so the puke isn’t awesome–I know EXACTLY what that’s like–but the inspiration that came from it is. I’m eager now to read the scenes you’ll create, knowing the emotions behind it. Thanks for sharing and I’m so glad you joined the blog hop!

  2. Funny thing is, I didn’t know you were a Kiwi when I landed here, but as soon as I saw that first pic I thought “That’s New Zealand”. It’s so distinctive.
    I remember sick nights as a tyke. Not much fun, & exactly the kind of thing that would cause problems on a quest!

    1. Hooray – nice to meet another SpecFic member! New Zealand does have a unique colour palette don’t you think? I found that especially after living overseas for a while…

      So glad you stopped by!

  3. Ugh. What a terrible end to the vacation. Hopefully everyone is done spewking. πŸ˜‰ Amazing where our inspiration will come from, isn’t it?

      1. Just another way writers are “wierd”. Most people will go through something emotional — good or bad — and they’re through it. We, on the other hand, have a part of our brain analyzing, recording, savoring, to use for later.

  4. “However just as I am thinking I’ve dodged a bullet, my son comes barrelling out of the room across the hall and into the toilet” For me, and my linguistic patterns, it conjures a very dramatic scene. Splash! I am sorry for you and your kids, though. Sounds miserable.

    “Will it fly? I’m not sure, but the beautiful thing about writing is every experience can provide inspiration if you’re prepared to keep your mind open to it.” I very much agree. I find that most things, so long as they don’t kick off my depression, inspire me. Depression, and that sick feeling at the pit of my stomach can sap all desire to write from me. Though even those, after the fact, can inform my writing. It’s always easier to write about what one has experienced for oneself. Maybe it is a little strange, to those who don’t write it, that someone who writes fantasy strives to write what she knows, but I do, and I think you do as well.

    1. Hmm – it does sound like he fell in… LOL. I’m not laughing at him though, yes it was miserable, but thankfully we all survived and we really pulled together as a family which was kind of beautiful in those circumstances.

      Thanks I do understand what you mean about writing what you know – which is kind of weird because my life is so far away from the setting of my story. Yet those emotions still translate. But I also understand what you mean about depression. I’ve suffered with it and have learned when heading down that road not to write the heavy scenes, but try and focus on the fun and frivolous. For me I really feel the characters when I’m writing them, so if they struggle it has an impact on me too.

      1. It’s interesting what translates. I really think one of the primary purposes of fantasy writing is to translate the human experience into different circumstances in order to see it more clearly or from a different angle. πŸ™‚

        I empathize with my characters, too, though sometimes that is softened by the fact that I feel like the characters stand over my shoulder and make commentary.

  5. That was a great post and I’m snagging “spewking” that is AWESOME. Well, the word, not the actual puke. I do have a kid spewking scene in one of my books, but it’s more comic (interrupts the two MCs’ plan to have sex). Your idea for adding tension is super, because kids do make us (parents) so much more vulnerable than we are on our own. As for beaches and inspiration – DEFINITELY- and one of the books I’m plotting is partly inspired by something I found on my beach. I’ll have to send you a tutorial on the whole adding a linky to your post…

    1. Spewking certainly has a ring to it – snag away, LOL.

      And please do send through the tutorial. I am officially technically unsavvy. Also the time zone messes a bit with these ‘named for the day blogs’. NZ is at the start of the international date line, so I try to post as late as I can on a Thursday – but because I can’t bear to post a Thursday post on my Friday I may always be early…

  6. Yup. I’ll be using “spewking” too. Very apt. I’m so sorry your family went through that! I hope it was only a 24-hour thing and you got some good sleep when it was over.

    I’ve used some of my fears as inspiration. There’s a bear-attack scene in Fairy Blood and I wrote a short story about a mum turning into a dragon to fry the guy trying to steal her kid. Stuff like that.

    1. Yes, fortunately it was just 24 hours, and it only struck the kids – but it was pretty vicious and it did take a few days to catch up on the lost sleep.

      I think I might turn into a dragon if someone tried to steal my kids too!

  7. It seems you have kickstarted a new “spewking” craze. See how inspiring Thursdays Children posts can be?

    And yeah! I definitely saw the differences in voice from your daughter to your son. Made up words or character-specific terms are great ways to show difference. How does each character refer to being sick? What do they say when they celebrate? What do they say when they’re annoyed or angry?

    Each of these reactions can be different for each character… you just need to repeat them enough throughout your dialogue so that your reader recognizes them instantly.

    Thanks for joining us, hope to see you next week!

    1. Of all the crazes to kickstart…

      But your post about dialogue has given given me another push to do some serious work on dialogue.

      Thanks for stopping by – and by next week I hope I’ve figured out the linky…

  8. A spewk-fest is sooooo not what you want for a vacation (or, you know…any time), but I absolutely love that you were able to derive some inspiration from it! And I agree – inspiration is everywhere. πŸ™‚

  9. Thanks so much for joining us on Thursday’s Children! The photos are beautiful and I totally relate to having adverse situations lead to surprising inspiration for a WIP. Happy Year of the Snake from Hong Kong! Kristina

    1. Absolutely – I find almost every part can hold something new – I can’t tell you how many new stories have come to me on a long drive (I don’t often get time to just sit and be…).

      While I’m grateful to have got some inspiration from this trip – I’m hoping not to repeat the end of it for quite some time!

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