For various reasons, I like to write on aeroplanes. It’s a lot more expensive than coffee shops, and I can blame my lack of output on my dwindling frequent flyer miles, but I didn’t really choose this as my ‘writing shed’ It just sort of happened (long story). Anyhow, in the past two weeks I have flown to Sydney and back (15 hour flight from Los Angeles), and up to San Francisco from Orange County (only an hour). I have to confess that because the flight to Sydney left at 11.15pm on Sunday, and our new puppy had me awake at 4am, 5am, and 6am on Saturday night, I didn’t even attempt to write anything on the outbound flight. On the return journey, I did write - but it was all work documents, especially a major blog piece I’m doing on grain. The same was true on my SFO flights - reading material one direction, and writing more on the grain piece on my return. It doesn’t mean that story ideas didn’t occur to me though, and as usual they were squeezed into a moleskine, or tapped into my Todoist Writing list. It was my first trip to Australia, which made it a fantastic opportunity to come up with story ideas - I find there is nothing more inspiring than going somewhere new, and having your preconceptions, and ‘fixed’ ideas challenged by new and novel approaches. Whenever I travel, on holiday or for work, I come back brimming with stories or snippets that an be incorporated into my writing, because my brain has been sparked into action by the differences from the place I’ve visited and my own, familiar environment.
I often feel inspired by San Francisco. I should confess (or perhaps I shouldn’t) that I’m not totally convinced by San Francisco. I have a lot of friends who LOVE the place, and know many people who are keen to move there (or would, if the real estate prices were more reasonable), but I have to say that I find it a strange combination of high tech, fascinating layers of architecture, and abject poverty, all mixed in with the most surreal art and people. Each time I visit, it has like the city has morphed into a different place, like one of the abstract places in Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino. One time, you might find the city crawling with Uber, Lyft, and ten other clone copycats. The next trip, everyone is racing past you on electric scooters. On a third visit, everyone I passed was dressed like a fairytale character or an alien, and jogging. There is something unsettling about a visit to San Francisco, but I find it triggers my chunk of grey writing matter, and I come back with a dozen new thoughts.
What about you - where do you find inspiration?