What inspires your art and creativity? As part of being a writer, I’m learning to be open to inspiration all around me for story and character ideas, whether it’s photographs I’ve taken, stuff I find around the house, old family photos and stories, music and songs, nature, an overheard conversation, places I’ve been. You name it.
Lately, I’ve been getting some ideas for a story set sometime between the 1920s and 1950s while poking around in my granddad’s papers, rummaging around in my dad’s messy office, and going through my mom’s old jewelry box that she forgot she had. Anything vintage is catching my attention right now. Below are some of the things that are itching to become part of a story.
My granddad was fond of clipping out newspaper and magazine photos and illustrations of women’s wear in the 1920s and 1930s to send to my grandmother before and after they were married. (I blame him for my attention to detail.) She was a small town, southern girl. He was a career Marine from Philadelphia and 22 years her senior. Apparently, he wanted to make sure she knew about the latest fashion in the big city. The illustration above is one he sent to her in 1922.
Make-Up and Jewelry
I found a tube of deep red lipstick in my mom’s old jewelry box. It’s called “Lucky Devil.” My mom most always wears red lipstick. She’s one of those women who can pull off that color very well. She could even put on her lipstick without looking in a mirror which held me in awe when I was growing up. In that same jewelry box are 1952 plane tickets to Nassau, an advertising illustration she drew for a clothing store, and a dress pin shaped like a spider (eep!) as well as other pieces of jewelry.
There’s a gravel road to a private fishing club in the southern part of the county I live in. It’s lined with trees dripping with Spanish moss. The road skirts the edge of the large fishing pond and leads to an old, two-story house still in use for overnight stays and get-togethers. There’s been something about the road and house that have given me the creeps since I was a kid. I can imagine disembodied whispers coming from the breeze as it blows through the Spanish moss, or shadows passing swiftly through the trees, following along beside us as we drive down the road. The house feels ominous. The giant alligator skin hanging on the wall downstairs doesn’t help matters.
Weaponry and Murder
In my dad’s office, I found two boxes of 100-year-old bullets. They must have belonged to his dad. One box is wrapped in fragile, old newspaper. I looked around the outside of the newspaper for anything that might give me a clue as to how old these bullets are. I didn’t want to unwrap the newspaper just to satisfy my curiosity. One name I saw was Mme. Caillaux. The article mentions she might be acquitted of murder for the shooting death of a newspaper editor. Indeed, she was acquitted in July 1914. What a coincidence to have this article covering a box of bullets!
All of these things are inspiring a mystery! A short story? Flash Fiction? A scene in a novel? Oh, the possibilities!