Ideas generally come to me. It’s very rare that I find myself completely without ideas when it comes to writing. I can’t remember a single time when I have sat and actively thought about ideas, willing them to life. They usually arrive in my brain quite spontaneously, and often when I am doing something out of my usual routine.
Flight SQA016 appeared in my mind because I have flown first class and could see the interesting dynamic between potential characters. I like to see how other people’s lives work and, as we all know, an airport is a fantastic place to people-watch.
If you’ve never people-watched, then I highly recommend it. Next time you are at the train station, or sitting in a coffee shop, look at people around you. Not scary staring, we don’t want to get you into an altercation, just look. And then try to fill in the blanks. Who are they? What do they do? Are they waiting for someone? How has their day been? Are they smiling when actually their world might be falling apart? What’s in that notebook they are clutching?
It’s fascinating to imagine someone else’s life. I think this is mainly because we spend a lot of time in our own little bubble and we quite forget that we are surrounded by very different people. We all live very different lives. So, I urge you to try it. Even if you’re not a writer, just for fun. It’s amazing what insight you can uncover just by looking up from your hot drink and looking at the people around you.
A lot of people who share my people-watching hobby tell me that they love the airport because there are so many different people. And, in some ways, I agree. But the thing about people-watching at an airport is that they all have something in common. Something big. They have all either just landed, are about to take off or are accompanying someone who fits into one of those groups. To me, this makes people-watching at the airport a little dull. There is a common thread amongst all those people, no matter how different.
It kind of taints the randomness of people-watching. It’s a bit like people-watching at a football match, you know why they are there. I find the real question is always, “why are you here, and why are you here at this particular point in time?”
With that in mind, this week I discovered a similar but, in my opinion, better, place to people-watch. The motorway services. Over the years I must have clocked up hours and hours in motorway services. But it was only recently, while my brain has been swirling around for inspiration, that I came up with a spark of an idea.
It’s still working it’s way through my mind. But it’s an idea that is growing each day so maybe this will be the basis of my next book. Maybe I’ll be able to make motorway services interesting!