Poughkeepsie, Schenectady, and Wal*Mart
Many people ask writers where they get their ideas. Most of us writers have developed stock answers (including the snark that makes up the subject of this post.)
Yesterday, I had about a dozen ideas for new stories.
Yesterday morning, Maria V. Snyder and I headed down to the National Geographic to see the traveling exhibit of Terra Cotta Warriors from China. (Maria doesn’t live in the area, but she lives close enough that she can travel down here for a lovely evening of gossip, dining, more gossip, drinking wine, and more gossip, before heading to the exhibit the following day…)
I’d braced myself for disappointment at the exhibit. In China, there are 6000 terra cotta warriors, all guarding the tomb of the first emperor who unified China (around 221 BC.) The exhibit has 15 of them on display. A friend who saw the exhibit in Los Angeles said that it was just impossible to imagine the power of the 6000. The Washington Post museum critic said that the artifacts weren’t as interesting as the write-ups on the wall.
And yet, I was captivated by the exhibit. I kept needing to remind myself that these statues (and related artifacts) were made by actual humans 2200 years ago. That a real person carved the individual strands of a horse’s mane 2200 years ago. That a real emperor believed that his soul would be serviced by these creations 2200 years ago.
The curating was very good in this show. The explanations on the walls did a great job of explaining what the first emperor did, to change social structure, to gain absolute control. I found myself sketching story ideas, character details, themes, etc., all in my trusty notebook. (I don’t think I’ll ever write historic fiction based on this era – I don’t know enough of the details – but some of the fantasy-society ideas triggered by the show…)
So. Poughkeepsie. Schenectady. Wal*Mart. And the National Geographic.
Mindy, off to write down some more ideas