Because I’m inspired by speeding cars

June 25, 2012 § 2 Comments

If you’re a writer, or an artist of any kind, you probably get this question a lot: what inspires you? Which is a pretty broad question. Every time someone poses this question to me, I’m a bit baffled as to how exactly I should answer them. Often, I’ll just end up stuttering something along the lines of “uh… people… things, I guess?”

Oftentimes, I’m wholly confused at things that inspire me, and how exactly they inspire me. Other times, I’m just embarrassed, even though I probably shouldn’t be. But as a human being, you don’t have a linear thought process, and as an artist, my thought process is anything but linear.

I remember back when I was fifteen, I had to write a short story for English class. I was completely stuck on what to write. I had writer’s block. But I really had to get the thing done so I walked around my room with a pen and notebook and even danced around for a little while. I scribbled a few words but found them to be absolutely pathetic. I turned on my mp3 player and hit shuffle. Speeding Cars by Imogen Heap played in my ears and that’s when inspiration struck.

The next few hours were a blur. At the end I had produced a story about a young girl with mental problems who killed her own parents but blamed it on her imaginary friend, Blake. If you’ve never listened to Speeding Cars by Imogen Heap, you can do so below. But let me tell you something, it is certainly not about mental problems or imagery friends or murder. Yet, that’s what my story ended up being. There was quite a bit of hype about that story in school afterwards.

“Wait so, who killed the parents? Was it Blake? Was it her? So she was insane? She killed her own parents?”

Yeah, yeah, yeah, it’s a dark, twisted story written by a fifteen-year-old girl, inspired by a song that reflects the song in no way at all. Like I said, not a linear thought process. People asked me what inspired that, what made me write it. What exactly was I supposed to tell them? That when I hear songs about childhood and growing up, I think of murder and insanity?

About two months ago, I attended the launch of The Bell, UCD’s own literary magazine and had to do a reading of my poem (which was published in the magazine), Breathing Past Brick Walls. Afterwards, my friend Amanda ran up to me really excitedly and told me that my reading was wonderful, my poem was wonderful and then, the dreaded question, what inspired it? I muttered something along the lines of “I’m not really sure, I don’t remember”.

The poem was quite different from my murderous short story inspired by an innocent song. It was something that I really struggled to write, that really pained me to write. As I have said before, poetry doesn’t come easy to me, so when I write poems, they often end up being immensely personal in a way that prose isn’t. Brick Walls was written about a past experience that had deeply affected me. How do you tell anyone, even your best friends, that the poem was created from pain and hurt? Would they understand? Do they understand?

I don’t know. Inspiration is a strange thing. I don’t think I’ve ever honestly answered one of the “what inspired this?” questions. I don’t know if I ever will. Sometimes, I don’t even know myself.

Have you guys ever experienced difficulty with the inspiration question? Are you like me when it comes to letting people in on your inspirations or do you gladly tell them the truth? Let me know in the comments!


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§ 2 Responses to Because I’m inspired by speeding cars

  • This is so true. I sometimes end up writing a poem on just a word I randomly heard or read. If you end up telling someone who is interested in the “what inspired you?” I think you might put down their excitement. I guess it’s better to just “umm…” that answer unless there is a good story behind 😉


    • secretly-broken says:

      That’s true. I do usually attempt to answer their question, even if it’s not entirely true a lot of the time, and ends up with an “I’m not entirely sure”.


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