Inspiration in the strangest places

I’ve been somewhat at a loss recently for what to do, writing-wise. There’s several short stories on the go in various states of ‘can only read this through my fingers cringingly’, but I’ve been finding it hard to get ideas. The thing with ideas, though, is they tend to spring up from the weirdest places when you least expect it.

I get a lot of inspiration from an unholy mish-mash of pop culture, music and ancient literature. Good job I studied Classics at uni and own more vinyl records than I have room for. It does make for some strange notions, like juvenile delinquents running around strange worlds with mythological creatures. I mean, that’d be a silly thing to expend 69,000 words on, right?

'Yes, it's a stupid idea. Nobody reads about teenagers these days.'

‘Yes, it’s a stupid idea. Nobody reads about teenagers these days.’

This month, the local NaNoWriMo group have started a fun short story challenge, with genres picked out at random. I was hoping I’d get something comfortable, like fantasy. Instead, I got romance. Now, it’s fair to say it’s not my speciality. Looking back over my writing, I’m struggling to find a conventional relationship. I’m raking through Word, trying to find some fluffy romance. Hell, I can’t even find any moments of wild rutting, because quite frankly you can just take that sort of nonsense over there, young man.

I was having a think about what on earth I could do, and then a series of happy coincidences turned up. It started with sending a friend someone else’s fanfiction about a certain Genesis album that it’s fair to say heavily influenced my novel. It was pretty fluffy stuff, given its subject matter mostly consisted of a teenager trying to get his end away. Then Twitter pointed me at a surprise Saved By The Bell reunion, a show beloved of many a child growing up in the 90s, and clearly carrying on the fine teenage tropes started in The Breakfast Club (only nobody does anything other than kiss, because Saturday morning TV). And then I spotted one of my university texts on my bookshelf- good old Δάφνις καὶ Χλόη, or Daphnis and Chloe for the non-Classicists. I remember my first lecture so clearly. We were furnished with the scene where young Daphnis finally learns how to make a girl happy in bed. Greek text on one side, Latin on the other, because Victorian translators were massive prudes. As our brains started processing the words, we all started to look something like this:

Classics: a good excuse for studying porn. Let's be honest.

Classics: a good excuse for studying porn. Let’s be honest.

It’s a good read in translation, though, if you like gorgeous pastoral romance. There’s pirates, there’s adventure, there’s supernatural goings-on, there’s… a 15-year-old and 13-year-old trying to get it on. Yeah, let’s gloss over that part. Whatever this post-Yewtree world has to say, the story of a naive shepherdess and a frustrated shepherd who has to resort to an older woman instead of a well-thumbed Joy of Sex is a TALE AS OLD AS TIME.

'Yeah, that's not quite what I meant, but full marks for your Mike Oldfield cover.'

‘Yeah, that’s not quite what I meant, but full marks for your Mike Oldfield cover.’

Ah well, at least I have a vague idea of what I should be writing. Now, is there a market for short classical Greek pastiches about lovelorn teenagers? Don’t all answer at once. And please don’t arrest me.

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