Monday, February 03, 2014

The Origin of Inspiration

Over the weekend, I came across something that finger-flicked my brain. People wonder where writers get their inspiration for stories. For me it was the checkout counter of a paint and decorating shop.

Marv is renovating our living room. Slowly, we’ve been replacing carpet with hardwood throughout the house and this room needs updating in more ways than flooring. One piece of heavy furniture that I’ve grown to detest needs to go. There’s too much crowded into this space and aside from the dog who likes to sleep on the couch, the room is seldom used. Looking at this room sans carpet and furniture and envisioning the possibilities is exciting but challenging. It’s how I imagine a painter feels sitting before a blank canvas. Within financial reason, the potential for this room is boundless.

Interior design is the least of my talents, should I possess any talents at all.  Though normally giving little thought and even less effort to decorating, I know what I like. Sleek clean lines and open space are my preference. Clutter disturbs me. I’ll be on the lookout for select pieces I can’t live without – not what would probably look okay.

Buoyed with enthusiasm, I put in time waiting for my paint order by wandering the local decorating shop checking out accessories and wall hangings of every size and description – canvas pictures, metal wall sculptures, wood plaques. Though I usually curb my eclectic tastes, niggling thoughts of indulgence spurred me. Being a writer gives license to being different – so I understand. This belief allows freedom to explore the things that appeal to me on a personal level. Returning to the counter area to pick up my order, I noticed a large, tastefully matted print in a chic brushed-metal frame. An architectural shot of a renovated tenement building. The picture spoke volumes. My heart beat a little faster. I couldn’t take my eyes off it.

The wrought iron balconies and stairs adorning the stone and brick structure were pleasing to the eye, but it was what I couldn’t see that captivated me. The people behind the curtained windows. The stories unfolding in the close quarters of those apartments. That’s what piqued my interest. The sultry air, the smell of cigarettes and fried food, the sound of traffic, dogs barking, and children playing. That’s what emanated for me from that architectural shot. Not the appreciation of masonry and style.

The clerk told me the price of the framed print. I winced and left the store. Just short of starting my car, I left the key in the ignition and re-entered the shop. The clerk took the measurements for me and then suggested I use my cell phone to take a picture, reminding me before I left that if purchased, the print could be returned within thirty days if I changed my mind. Tempting.

In decorating, furniture is usually chosen before the accessories but as in anything I tackle, I will work backwards towards my goal.

Determined not to be my normally impulsive self, I’ll wait until the room is painted – sounds of the squeaky roller tell me it will be soon – before returning to the store. If the picture has the same effect on me, I’ll test my negotiating skills.

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