What inspires you?
A couple of weeks ago, I asked my fellow writers over on Twitter where they get their inspiration from for their writing, and although answers varied, a number of them did come up with similar answers. Mainly TV, movies, games and music.
I’ve talked before about how some of my writing has been inspired by dreams that I’ve had. Creatures, in particular, was heavily influenced by a dream I had, and it’s what got me writing in the first place.
However, my most recent work, Blindsighted, was influenced more by my experiences of places, people, and events.
Without spoiling the story for those that have read it, I want to talk about one event in particular that happened at my junior school.
Blindsighted is a ghost story at heart, and the experience that inspired a particular scene still lingers in my mind to this day.
Back in my old junior school, there was a story about a man that haunted a certain room.
The story went that a man was fixing the room one day when he slipped and fell off. However, he wasn’t killed from the fall, but some slate slipped off the roof and struck him in the head after he landed.
After his death, he had been seen on the balcony that overlooked the main assembly hall and also in and around one of the classrooms.
The classroom in question was across the assembly hall and was next to one of the boys’ toilets. This part of the school was always dark. The classroom was used for music lessons and wasn’t always in use, so more often than not, the place was in darkness. I remember avoiding this place wherever possible and never going through there on my own. But one day I had no choice.
I was in a lesson on the light side of the assembly hall and needed to go to the bathroom. I knew that I couldn’t be too long, so I couldn’t go to the toilets that were on the other side of the school. I had no choice but to go to the ones near the music room.
I asked permission to go and started to make my way to the bathroom. I stopped at the doors to the assembly hall, which was in total darkness because it wasn’t in use. I couldn’t turn the lights on; otherwise, someone would come and tell me off, so I slowly opened the door and started across the hall.
As I walked, I kept my eyes on the opposite doors and could see a tiny sliver of light coming from one of the windows in the music room (this was never enough to light it properly.) I don’t know if it was because it was dark and I was young and impressionable, but I felt like I was being watched. As if someone was stood on the balcony above me, watching my every move.
As I pushed open the set of doors – which, of course, creaked eerily – and stopped, ready to bolt if something was there. After a minute or so, I knew I had to get moving, so I made my way into the bathroom.
Inside I used the toilet (they were all in cubicles) and laughed at myself for thinking there would be a ghost.
As I flushed the toilet, I thought I heard the doors go. I wasn’t sure if I heard right because of the sound of the flush. I remember standing there in the quiet for a bit, wondering if there were would be any other noise – if someone else had come in, there would be sounds of them moving about.
After standing there in silence and internally laughing at myself again, I turned and left the cubicle. As I washed my hands, I heard a shuffle behind me – there were no mirrors in this bathroom, so I couldn’t look up and see. Something made all the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end, and I cautiously turned around.
I then saw something that I can never forget.
Stood in the corner opposite me was a man. He had his back to me, but I could see he was wearing overalls and looked kind of shabby. I didn’t know what to do; I just knew that he shouldn’t have been there. I looked up at his head (I was much shorter back then) and could see something sticking up out of his head.
The door was on the opposite wall, a few feet left of the figure. As much as I didn’t want to move, I knew I had to get out and back into the light of the corridor on the other side of the assembly hall.
I ran. I don’t know how quickly I got out of there, but I was out of breath by the time I got into the hall.
I could see the lights on the other side of the door and darted for them. I didn’t turn around, but I felt like someone was walking behind me.
When I got to the other corridor, and was thankfully back in the light. I got on my tiptoes and looked through the small window in the door. I could see across to the other set of doors, but I couldn’t see the thin bit of light from the music room window. It was being blocked out by someone standing just behind the doors.
I calmed myself down some and went back to class.
I never used those toilets again and only went to the music room when I was with other people for a lesson.
Now I know there are many people out there who will dismiss this as the overactive imagination of a pre-teen child. But I know what I saw and experienced. The entire thing was terrifying and enough so that it sticks with me to this day. I’ve had other haunting experiences, but this one, because I was so young, just seems the worst by far.
When writing the scene in Blindsighted that relates to this experience, I tried to get across the feeling of fear that I felt when I was a child and saw what I saw.
There are other things in the book that I’ve pulled in from childhood memories, but nothing as scary as seeing the man with a piece of slate in his head.
I hope you enjoyed this little story, and I hope when you read Blindsighted that this will give you more insight into how I wrote that scene.
Have you written anything about any experiences that you’ve had in life? – not just ghostly things but anything.
What inspires your writing?