Several years ago I finished Microserfs by Douglas Coupland. This was a big deal because it was my fourth attempt. To this day I don’t know why I struggled on three separate occasions. It wasn’t that I didn’t like it and it’s not because it was a difficult read. I may have thought these things at the time but, on that successful fourth pass, I loved it and breezed through it.
All I can assume is that it’s all about the timing.
I find it’s the same with writing. I have a list of most of the ideas I’ve ever come up with. A small amount I get on with then and there but some of the ideas don’t feel like they want to be written just yet. So I leave them and, every now and then, I look over that list and see what feels right that day. I can even end up merging two or more ideas together.
It can be a stressful experience to want to (or even have to) write something but find yourself minus the inspiration. The more you yearn for that idea to ‘pop’ into your head the more difficult it becomes to relax and let that process happen.
A lot of the time I find myself hearing a news story or watching a show and just thinking simple questions like ‘What if’ or ‘Why’.
With IMPRISONED (which will be up on this blog and Wattpad in a few weeks’ time) it all started with a real life news story about a man who, after fifty years in prison, had been found wrongly accused. I thought about all that time he would never get back and how lucky he had been that his punishment was only imprisonment and not execution. These thoughts stayed lurking at the back of my mind until I caught a programme on over crowded prisons. They talked about whether execution would relieve this and I thought back to the wrongly accused prisoner. What if they got it wrong? How can we be 100% when it comes to ending life?
So sometimes just coming across a random news story can spark off an idea and lead into something bigger.
Last year I took park in evening classes for creative writing. During one of these lessons our teacher passed out some newspapers and asked us to flick through them. She wanted each of us to find a head line and use it as a spring board for a short story.
I went through all the newspapers and came up with nothing. I’m not big on world news, politics or even sports so most of the papers contained nothing that I normally follow. Even general news seemed quiet.
The teacher noticed me struggling and offered me the PC stuffed in the corner. I relaxed then. I logged in, brought up Google news and went straight to the Technology section.
Now, most of the time this contains news about games consoles, mobile phones and cars but I got lucky that day. I found an interesting article on bionics and how far we see mankind going in the future with integrated technology (wish I could track that article down but it was a year ago). It talked about camera eyes for the blind and mobile phone like devices connected straight to our brain.
And then I had the spark.
How far could humans go with this? How much augmentation is too much? When are you no longer human?
And then I started writing.
Monday, 3rd June 2021
I turned my head as a doctor came into my room. “Yes”, I replied.
“Good morning. My name is Doctor Fletcher and I’ll be over seeing your procedure this morning.”
I smiled nervously. I get that’s it’s his job to reassure and relax the patient but he can’t stop me thinking about what I’m about to go through. After today, after the surgery, my life will be completely changed.
I watched the doctor as he looked over my chart at the foot of my bed. When he finished he walked around to my right, a fixed, well-practiced smile on his face. “How are we feeling today?” he said.
“I’m okay,” I said as I took up my end of the small talk. We were both just waiting for the go ahead now. There was no going back from this even if I wasn’t feeling good. Too many people were counting on me going through with this. “Have you done this before?”
“Three times, not including today,” he said. “So you’ll be my forth.”
“Have there ever been any . . . ?”
“Complications?” he finished for me. “Only once. His name was Michael, I believe. It wasn’t unexpected though. He was the third person in the world to go through with this specialist procedure but only the first in the UK. But the silver lining was that those issues we stumbled across helped us perfect the surgery. And he’s doing fine now. Working hard and making us proud.”
I already knew most of the information he told me. I did my research before signing the paperwork. Even with the large pay out my family would get I still needed to know exactly what I was getting myself into.
A nurse knocked on the door to my room and entered. She was a pretty thing, looked like my wife when we started dating, only not blonde.
“Everything’s ready, doctor,” she said.
“Okay,” said Doctor Fletcher. I noticed him checking her out as she turned and left us. I hoped he didn’t get distracted so easily during the surgery.
“Right,” he said. “We’re all ready to go. You’ll be out for about 30-35 hours. We’ll go through the entire procedure before you’re woken up. It can be uncomfortable for the patient to do this in sections. After that you’ll be awake and at work by the end of that day. No aches and no pain. In fact, unless there are issues with your recovery, you probably won’t see me again.”
I hold my right arm out to him. “Thank you doctor.”
He takes my hand and shakes it. “No, Mr Stanton. Thank you. This procedure is just the beginning. I can’t even imaging where this will lead us in the near future.”
I smile and relax, looking up at the ceiling.
Friday, 7th June 2021
According to my display it’s been several days since I was awoken from surgery. I’m still getting used to phantom limb syndrome and not needing to breathe but that should all pass. The hardest thing to learn was controlling the data on my display just by thinking it. Now that my neuro implants are plugged into the Governments data library I can work non-stop longer and faster than I ever did at my old job. Just like those volunteers before me.
Sure I miss my family but, like the body I once inhabited, those memories, those connections, will soon fade. My mind belongs to the state now.
Rule Britannia. We never clock off.
Please let me know what you think of this piece. And let me know what you do to find ideas when the well of inspiration goes dry. Do you scour the news headlines for stories? Go for a walk? Watch your favourite movies?
Next week I will be discussing my plans for this July’s Camp NaNoWriMo which I’m really looking forward to. If you’re taking part then let me know. It would be nice to talk to fellow writers during the month long challenge.
See you in seven.