A good ol' fashioned topic here: inspiration.
I just finished reading a collection of stories, Stranger Things Happen, by Kelly Link, and it was a collection to love. Odd and strange and original and quirky and just a little bit haunting, the sort of stories that stick with you after you've finished them. Like peanut butter on the roof of your mouth, you're gonna have to pick at them for awhile. A lick here and there, a prod with your tongue, a few thoughts of how chocolate would go so nice with this...
But what I found most interesting about my response to these stories was that element of inspiration, of that sudden need to write. Not to emulate, per se, but to make something, to fashion something new and wholly unique out of all those old verbs, adjectives and nouns. Dust off those familiar words and make them shiny again.
It makes me think of stories as links in a chain, bound together, all individual and yet all connected. Stories reaching out, sparking and starting new stories in new minds. It's like that image of Michelangelo's on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, the hand of God touching the hand of man, the spark of life and creation transferred onward. And yet here we have the image repeated again and again and again, a chain of stories from a hundred thousand minds, playing off each other, sparking and sparkling, an interwoven fabric of links tunneling backward through time, from mind to mind, charting the long and ecstatic course of inspiration.
And I wonder what it is that makes for that inspiration. Not all stories do it, not even all stories I love. I might find a story great as a reader without it touching me as a writer. But certain writers, certain stories, are bright with that current, as if storing up an electrostatic charge just for me. Waiting... waiting for me to touch the doorknob (the little currents all alive), waiting for me to open the door on that particular world.
The strangeness of Stranger Things Happen is part of it. Stories, and realities, bent a little askew. Different. I want to capture that difference in turn. Or, rather, I want to capture not Kelly Link's differences but my own. I want to swallow up the energy of these creations and use it, an electric boy plugging himself into a new world. See my fingers glow as I type...
So I'd like to turn this idea back on you. Are you inspired by other stories or writers, and, if so, what are the particular qualities that inspire you? Is there some recurring quality that you find charges your writing batteries?