The Unexpected



With my first 2015 deadline looming, I had to take swift action to get the creative juices flowing, which quite frankly have been a bit scant since finishing my novel in November. So off I went, donned in my rain jacket, scarf and ear muffs (what a sight) on a brisk-ish walk. Luckily, my surroundings are heaped in history and in the next village of Satzvey stands a majestic 13th century castle; one of the best kept moated castles in Rhineland. I thought well if that doesn’t inspire me then nothing will. But on route, I stopped at a disused factory which I pass regularly but have not, until now, taken much notice.

I listened to my own advice and brought my senses into play. It was the perfect setting for the ghost story I want to write for The Fiction Desk February competition. After several minutes of standing in the rain and speaking into my Dictaphone (which I carry in my pocket at all times as an alternative to soggy paper), I was interrupted by an elderly gentleman walking his dog. My investigative nature took hold and I began to ask him questions (difficult in German, but I tried my best).

What I was listening to, or my interpretation of what he was trying to tell me, was fascinating. He had no real answers. The factory was apparently a very successful business in its day. What business? He couldn’t say. Why did it close? He couldn’t say. He explained that it closed overnight. One day, it was fully operational and the next day it was deserted. Rumour has it that the owner paid his staff off handsomely and since that day no-one seems to know the true story behind the abandoned factory. I thanked the kind gentleman, who seemed to disappear too quickly from view, and discussed with my Dictaphone the possibilities of the story behind the dismal building. What secrets does it hold?

Due to the unexpected jolt of inspiration, I never did make it to the castle. Another day.

I would love to hear about any occasion when an unexpected vision/sight has inspired you.

Comments

  1. A spooky looking place and a spooky encounter. I think the unexpected inspiration is always more powerful xx

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    1. I agree, Teresa. Let's hope I am able to capture the spooky element in my story :)

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  2. A conversation which leaves you with lots of questions and few answers seems the ideal story prompt. Good luck with the competition.

    When I'm assisting my husband with his photography, I'm often on my own waiting and I amuse myself by looking out for odd details or trying to make sense of snatches of conversation I hear as people walk past. These often end up in stories.

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    1. Thank you, Patsy. I think eavesdropping, although it was drummed into me as being rude (as a child), is a fantastic writing tool :)

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    2. It's only rude if you come up with cunning ruses to get close enough to hear, or follow so you learn the reply ... I do that as well.

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  3. After your encounter with the old gentleman, you must have come back fizzing with ideas for a spooky story set in the factory, Nicola. Someone in my writing group has written some excellent pieces which have been inspired by overheard conversations! Good luck with your writing in 2015.:-)

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    1. My mind fizzed to overflowing, Jan. Some of the words are now on the page and my fingers are well-oiled to continue at a good speed. Thank you for your comment and for popping by. It's great 'to see' you.

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  4. That factory much have an interesting past---as a thriller writer, I can see how it would spur your imaginative juices.

    Usually I find inspiration in quiet moments when I'm not searching for it, in moments of self-contemplation and reflection, which I don't do nearly often enough!

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    1. Thank you for your comment, Emily, and for dropping by. I hope that the new year brings you lots more moments for contemplation and I wish you continued success!

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  5. What an inspiring place, Nicola. I love stumbling upon surprising buildings. I remember finding myself unexpectedly underneath a huge viaduct once while on a country walk. I just looked up and its eerie, echoing vastness took my breath away.

    There was also a folly in the Lake District that I was expecting to see because I had read about it in the guidebook. However, I shall never forget the amazing array of turrets that reared up as we turned down a small track and were struck by this huge castle when I had been imagining a little Victorian villa.

    I hope you continue to be newly inspired every day. xx

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    1. Thank you for your comment, Joanna. It's amazing where we can find inspiration, isn't it? Wishing you a wonderful creative journey throughout the year.

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  6. What a fascinating post, Nicola. Your meeting with the old gentleman could itself form the basis of a short story.

    A place I once derived inspiration from was Aberfeldy in Scotland. There is a waterfall there, surrounded by white birch trees - the birks of Aberlfeldy - quite a famous tourist draw in their own right. It was a fine autumn day - glorious blue skies but distinctly chilly. Walking up the side of the waterfall was the most exhilarating experience. It was one of those times when you wanted to be able to bottle the fresh air and keep it forever so you could open it up and have a sniff whenever you felt the need.

    I haven't thought about Aberfeldy in a long time, so thank you for reminding me. And good luck with your short story.

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    1. Thank you, Susanna. Scotland is filled wonderful landscapes. I must revisit very soon, obviously donned with my raincoat and ear muffs :) Wishing you lots of success throughout the year.

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  7. Good luck with your story, Nicola. Like some of the others who have commented, I'm inspired by snippets of overheard conversation, usually on the train whilst commuting to my day job. I'm also inspired by pictures in newspapers and magazines, and when stuck, sometimes use those as writing prompts to get words flowing.

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    1. I love trains. It's the perfect opportunity for striking up conversation and eavesdropping :) Wishing you lots of inspirational journeys. Thank you for popping by and taking the time to comment, Jen.

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  8. Sounds like you've got the makings for a very mysterious tale!

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    1. That's the plan, Milo. Let's see what comes of it. I'll let you know. Thanks for popping by.

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  9. First, thank you for visiting my blog! I love that you get to see such amazing buildings and now you have much inspiration to write! Win win! I finished my novel in Dec and need to start edits tomorrow but like you, trying to create my next one in my mind.

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    1. Thank you, Terri. Lovely to 'meet' you. Best of luck with your edits. I loved that part of the process - even though it seems a harder slog than actually writing it :)

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  10. An old bothy in the Lake District inspired me to write The Quarryman's Son (currently in The People's Friend Special)

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    1. That's great news, Wendy. Thank you for popping by :)

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  11. What unexpected happened sounds like a great story in itself.

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  12. Oh there are so many possibilities here. How exciting! And I loved that the man told you what he knew. Have fun writing!

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    1. He was such a sweet man and enjoyed talking. Bless him. Thanks so much for popping by. It's great to have you here and best wishes with "Claudia Must Die" - I've just downloaded it :) It's just my kind of bedtime reading :)

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  13. A great way to find inspiration, Nicola! I love coming upon unexpected places and probably have lots stored away fro future use. I hadn't realised I'd missed this post until morning - sorry!

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    1. It's lovely to see you, Rosemary!! No need to ever be sorry! I must admit that it is only since I've been serious about my writing that I actually pay attention to the wonderful opportunities and inspiration that surround us on a daily basis. And now I simply can't get enough :)

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  14. I think you stumbled onto something even better than the castle. That man's vague answers were enough to spur anyone's imagination.
    Most of my inspiration comes from music. And movies. I'm a bit of a film junkie...

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    1. Thanks for popping by, Alex. Music is a fabulous source of inspiration and put both music and movies together - well - then you have the ultimate buzz! Wishing you lots of fun with your upcoming projects - it all sounds amazing (or as my daughter would say 'amaze-balls') :)

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  15. Wow! I haven't had a day like that for ages. You have so many ways you could take this, fiction or maybe and article with a little more digging around.
    Often when we take the time to actually stop, look, and listen, do we find these gems.

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    1. Exactly, Maria. But sometimes, life makes us forget to stop, look and listen. A gentle reminder can bring about amazing things. Thank you for popping by. All the best.

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