Friday, November 21, 2008

What inspires you?

There are few questions I hate more than – what inspires you?. I am always blank (obviously ‘Your question’ is not the right answer), and I usually give an answer that is fictional and almost always stupid. To be honest, mostly I get inspired when I’m done writing and I look back and say “Hey that’s not so crappy!”. But today I realised something. It appears, at least in some cases, the news inspires me.

Those who read Thoughts from Botswana know I love newspapers. I love the smell, I love the mess. I read and talk to the newspaper at the same time. I rage and laugh. It is a total emotional experience. In Botswana, newspaper days used to be Wednesday for Midweek Sun and Gazettte, and Friday for Mmegi and The Guardian. Now we have Mmegi every week day and Sunday we have the Sunday Standard. YEAH!

I also love TV news. I love France 24, the only 24 hour news station we get since we stopped DSTV in protest of their monopoly, and a few other things I’ll not mention- NO, it is not because the Botswana woman decided to have oral sex on Big Brother. I am, despite rumours that may suggest otherwise, NOT a prude. But having said that- I mean YIKES!

As I said I’ve discovered, before I went off topic, that the news inspires me, it’s not the only thing, but at least it’s something, an answer next time I’m asked. I wrote this week’s Search Engine Fiction story around a baby dumped in a pit latrine after it became a big news story here in Botswana. Funny enough, my writing partner (She Who Will Remain Unnamed) also wrote a baby in the pit latrine story. That got me to wondering if I do this often. Do I write stories inspired by news? It seems that I do.

One of my favourite stories is The Collector of Lives about an Indonesian man left alone in the wreckage who waits to collect bodies as they wash up on shore and then buries them in case the families ever come back. It was inspired by the tragic news of the tsunami victims. I have another story about 9/11, surprisingly with a happy ending (how many writers could do that?). I even have a story about the terrorists in Russia where my terrorists, to my astonishment, were wearing baklava instead of balaclavas ( and yes, I submitted it to a publication like that...). Even the week before this one, my DRC story was inspired by the news.

So now I’m ready…….

Next time:

“So Lauri, what inspires you?”

“Well, Oprah, I get quite inspired by the news.”


AM-C said...

LOL! Funny post. I much prefer answering "what inspires you?" to "which writer inspires you/ which writer do you look up to?"

Lauri said...

It's true- which writer is also another one that is difficult to answer. I love so many books, so many short stories I can never pick.

groovyoldlady said...

The news does inspire me to pray, but i'm not a news junkie.

I'd have trouble answering the author question simply because the authors that inspire me are all alive and interact with me. I am inspired by my awesome writer friend, Lauri in Botswana, for one.

Lauri said...

Ao Groovy, how sweet you are! Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Well, I know for a fact that Oprah will be asking you that question for real when she has you as the writer on her Bookclub. It's only a matter of time!

Lauri said...

As much as I know that is what a successful writer wants, I really fear that Selma. I wish we could go back to being famous and reclusive. What a lovely time that must have been!