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The Music Makers: On Everlasting Gobstoppers, Regina Spektor, and Making Art

“We are the music makers. And we are the dreamers of the dreams.” ~ Willy Wonka

So in the past couple of weeks a few people have asked me “Where do you get your ideas for your writing?” To which my response was precisely: “Uh….I dunno. Life?”

Most of my inspiration to write probably comes from a desire to fiddle around with the rules of the universe, because some day, if I’m very good, I’ll be a God and writing stories is just good practice in the meantime. But in all seriousness, I don’t really know how to answer that question, especially since I write mostly science fiction/fantasy type stuff. Most of my ideas come from something I see or think about in my actual waking life, and then I say to myself, “Huh. well, that kind of sucks. But what if I wrote about it sucking, and then I threw in some zombies/unicorns?” I have yet to write anything involving zombies OR unicorns, but that’s beside the point.

Click to watch video of the gobstopping action!

The point is, for me at least, the inspiration to write a story usually comes from a series of events and occurrences, T.V. shows, coincidences, chance meetings, observations, things people say to me, and my own wish that there was a larger range of possibilities when it comes to realistic expectations. The whole process kind of reminds me of the Everlasting Gobstopper Machine in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, the one with literally all the bells and whistles that makes machine farts and a whole lot of other hullabaloo before it poops out these little magnificent pieces of candy.

Regina Spektor, who was recently interviewed by Terry Gross on NPR’s Fresh Air, spoke about this process when asked to describe how a specific song she wrote came into being, so I thought I would end this post with her words on the matter. You can listen to the entire podcast here:

Speaking of unicorns, don’t you think that Regina Spektor could be the real life version of Princess Amalthea from the Last Unicorn? If you were born in the 80s and haven’t seen that movie, you are highly unlikely to write any high fantasy.

Terry Gross: Do you want to talk about the inspiration for this song?

Regina Spektor: Um…you know, I’d love to talk about it. It’s always so hard though because I feel like I don’t fully ever understand exactly a specific lineage of a song. It sort of feels like lots and lots of things happen, and then I just write a song. It’s a combination of books and thoughts and stories and things I saw in the streets of New York and just a million things, and then, oh, I wrote a song.
And then Regina Spektor grew a horn on her forehead and Terry gross turned out to be a zombie and they fought to the death over the radiowaves. The end.