No… not that kind of shower scene. I mean the kind that pop into your head while, still half-asleep, you’re lathering shampoo into your hair. Or maybe you’re vacuuming the long-neglected carpets, or cruising the aisles of the local market, or somewhere else going about your day, unaware that your subconscious is about to spring a full-blown exchange of character dialogue on your unsuspecting conscious mind.

Like this snippet from a recently completed chapter of WILLA, in which my canine character apparently decided I’d kept him out of the spotlight a little too long:

Neil rose and went to the door, opening it to the smell of the night. He’d heard no thunder for some time now and could hear the rain falling in a gentler patter, no longer battering the ground. Feeling a nudge at his knee, cold and wet, he looked down to see that Cap had risen silently and padded after him to the cabin door.

“Ye dinna want to go out there,” he told the collie.

Cap whined and scratched the door.

“I’ll no’ be letting ye back in, an ye get yourself all-over mud,” he warned. “Ye’ll stay on the porch ’til ye’ve dried.”

The amber eyes fixed on his, in what he’d taken to calling the bad sheep stare.

“’Tis on your own heid then.” He let the dog out into the night. “And dinna pester the hens,” he called after. When he glanced back at the hearth, Willa was bent over her sewing, not quite hiding a smile. “Did I say something funny?”

“It is good, how you are with that dog.”

“Aye, well. I dinna ken quite when it happened, but he’s come to be like a child to me. Though there’s times when I think he thinks ’tis the other way ’round.” He peered out at the night, but Cap had disappeared into the dark. Neil shivered slightly, having no such desire to venture out even to check on the mule or the goats.

That exchange of dialogue had me scrambling for the notepad and pen I keep in the bathroom. Don’t you keep a notepad and pen in the bathroom… you know, just in case?

While the majority of a novel gets written right here at the computer during the hours of 9am to noon, Mon-Thurs (sometimes Sat), and sometimes it’s all I can do to make myself stay in the chair for those hours and wrench words onto the screen, there’s a special sort of inspiration that likes to pounce when I least expect it. I’ve had snippets of scenes blind-side me while driving, poke me awake on the edge of falling asleep, visit me in dreams, intrude while I’m reading or listening to good fiction, or tag along while I’m hiking up and down mountains. They’ve even insinuated themselves into my thoughts while I’m sitting in church listening to my pastor teach (thankfully he encourages us to take notes!).

Where are some of the places inspiration has ambushed you?

photo by Martin James (Flickr)

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