Sausage was playing quietly in my room the other day while I played my guitar. Suddenly she stood up and ran out saying, “I’m sorry, Mummy, I have to go. I’ve got notes in my head and I have to catch them before they run away.”
She headed straight to her own room and started tapping on the glockenspiel my sister gave her for Christmas. It meant an end to my guitar playing because the walls in our house are rather thin, but I could sympathise with the way she felt. I have the same trouble with words that run away if I don’t catch them.
A few weeks ago, for instance, I met a couple who were perfect characters for a book – slightly eccentric, larger than life, with lots of little mannerisms that make a character in a novel real and different. I spent the whole time I was with them wishing I could grab my notebook and start jotting down those little things they did or said that made them so interesting. It’s just not the same trying to remember it later.
I knew a priest once who kept a tiny tape-recorder in his pocket. When new people came to church he’d secretly turn it on while he asked them about themselves. Then later in the week he’d go to visit them. They were always thrilled that he’d remembered even the tiniest details of their conversation.
Maybe I should get myself a tiny digital recorder for these frustrating moments when inspiration strikes? But in this day and age it would probably be construed as invasion of privacy, so I’m just going to have to sharpen my memory.
What do you do to catch those moments of inspiration?