Thursday, January 24, 2013

Other Art as Inspiration

I’ve written myself into exhaustion today, in the best possible way. I wrote nearly 3000 words of a short story. The piece is about halfway complete -- I wanted to go further, but I was “written out” and at that edge of exhaustion where one has to stop, one one goes backwards.

The story itself is taking delightful twists and turns, far away from my expectations. My original inspiration is Edward Hopper’s painting “New York Movie”. (You can see it here). I’m a fan of Edward Hopper’s work. I can stare at it for hours. In fact, when I’m feeling tired, creatively tapped out, that’s when I need to go to a museum and look at paintings. There’s something about a painting, the immediacy of that captured moment, that unlocks creative energy for me.

I’ve wanted to write a story inspired by this painting for a long time. Originally, I assumed it would be a quiet piece of literary fiction. Instead, it’s turned into a noir mystery, full of twists and turns. The female usher, leaning against the wall in the painting, is my protagonist, and the story is in first person. The opening is in the theatre, in 1939, the year the painting was done. The gentleman, the one whose head is most clearly discernible, is also in the story, as are several characters who aren’t in the painting, and locations range from the Automat to Times Square to the Martha Washington Hotel (a residence for women), to nightclubs to the docks. The research is fun and fascinating, a few minutes here and there to drop atmospheric detail into the tale.

 I encourage anyone who is stuck or feeling that the writing is flat to go to a museum and look, really LOOK at a painting. Step inside it, feel it, explore it. It will bring untapped possibility to life.

--Annabel Aidan is a full-time writer publishing under a half a dozen names in both fiction and non-fiction. Her paranormal romantic suspense novel for Champagne is ASSUMPTION OF RIGHT, combining witchcraft, theatre, and politics. Website:


January Bain said...

Annabel, that just makes such sense, using a painting as inspiration!!! Best, January

Julie Eberhart Painter said...

You reference and the painting brought back such memories and sparked several ideas. She looks like she's going to answer th EXIT door and let in a friend, or she's lonely and disturbed. The ideas are limitless.

Our Bucks County movie theater looked just like thatin the 50s. The theater is still in operation in Historic Doylestown, PA.

Ute Carbone said...

I love Edward Hopper's work! What a great painting--I could see where it would inspire any number of stories. I wrote a poem about his painting "Nighthawks", but I've never tried making a story. Wonderful idea.

Rhobin Lee Courtright said...

I always find it interesting how the arts intertwine.