Where do your ideas come from?

Ideas really come from anywhere and everywhere. As a writer you become a bit of an ideas detective, always on the hunt for anything that might be useful as the starting point for a poem. On one occasion I was walking down the street and a lady and her probably four-year-old son were walking towards me and I heard him say as we passed, "Mummy, did pirates wear nail varnish?" I thought "What??" I swivelled around but they had gone past by that time so I didn't hear what the answer was. But I thought that would make a wonderful first line for a poem about a different view of pirates: I wonder if pirates wore nail varnish/ Did they eat after-dinner mints/ Did they visit expensive hairdressers/ And highlight their hair with tints? On another occasion I was in a school staff room. Staff rooms are really great places for picking up ideas, because teachers tell each other the most wonderful things. I was listening to six teachers who were all telling each other what they wore in bed at night. I thought, well, there's a whole world out there who would love to know this sort of information and it's my job as a writer to pass it on. So I made a couple of pages of notes in my notebook about what teachers wore in bed and I finished the poem and it kicked off a book called The Secret Lives of Teachers.

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