‘Love? A beautiful island? My own personal journey?’ It’s hard to explain what inspires you to write. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But one thing is certain; without inspiration, I can’t write.
Today, I stumbled upon the answer to that question: Wonderment.
It was the title of an old inspiration board from years ago that I found during my office spring clean. A trend watcher I worked with at the time came up with it and I should have realized then that she had a brilliant mind. The images on the board moved me. They were scenes from Radjastan, India. A blue elephant, a market stall with dyes in the most amazing shades and coloured chalk, covering thousands of people.
Wonderment is more than inspiration. It’s the feeling of awe when you see something so touching that it’s hard to understand. It’s the state of amazement in front of the most beautiful sunset or the feeling of being in love, wondering how the hell you got there. Wonderment gives you perspective. It drags you out of everyday life and makes you question everything and anything.
It’s so easy to fall into a routine. It happens to all of us. It’s hard to escape from, and sometimes we forget how amazing life can be. The term ‘broadening your horizons’ might sound like an old cliché but nothing could be further from the truth. Leaving your habitat and your daily routine gives you the opportunity to explore unknown parts of yourself that are triggered by different circumstances. And that inspired me to write.
For me, it doesn’t have to be an exotic holiday. It can be a weekend in the countryside with the dogs, evening drinks by the canal in our hometown or even a stroll through London, watching people and life go by. I always speculate what their lives are like, where they’re going, whether they’re happy…
A couple of years ago, I got the offer to live in Hong Kong for a while. I hesitated because I wasn’t sure if I wanted to stay in my job forever and felt that maybe they should send a more dedicated person. My wife convinced me to go anyway, and of course, she would come with me. She was certain that it would be a positive move.
‘If you don’t know what you want, you might as well go and enjoy it,’ she said. ‘And who knows? You might come up with ideas or get inspired to do things you wouldn’t normally do. It’s a win-win situation.’
She was right. When we came back, I wanted to write and so I started. We had seen so many mind-blowing things that I felt an aching need to document them. I’ve always loved to write but it took me a long time to work up the courage to admit to myself that I was writing a book. One and a half years later, ‘Lily’s Fire’ was born.
The story is partially set in Bali, where we travelled during our stay in Hong Kong. One particular sunset there, I will never forget for as long as I live. I wrote about it but I don’t think words can put the scene to justice unless you’re a poet. I witnessed hundreds of people staring at the sun in silence, standing still for minutes on end. Like sunflowers. Can you imagine? I tried to capture it with my camera but realized I couldn’t so I put my gadgets away and that was the moment I got sucked up in it too.
Because Hong Kong had played such a big part in my change of career plans, I wanted to write a love story, set in this city next. I’ve been travelling to Hong Kong twice a year for thirteen years now, and I can honestly say that it feels like my second home. In a way, it had also become routine for me so the joy of being there with my wife, experiencing the same feeling I had the first time I went there, through her eyes, made me enjoy it and appreciate it so much more.
And that is where a sense of re-wonderment overtook me. I started to appreciate the city and recognise it, instead of just living it. I started to see the beauty in mundane things around me. It’s great when you can look at something you’ve seen millions of times before and still admire it in ways you can’t even imagine. Right now, I’m staring at our dog’s tiny feet, paddling while he’s sleeping. He’s probably dreaming of being chased by the neighbour’s cat, although he would never admit that. Curiosity and observation are a powerful combination when you open yourself up.
Lise Gold is an emerging author of lesbian fiction. ‘Lily’s Fire’, Lise’s debut novel, is a reflection of the author’s positive look on life. Her romantic attitude, enthusiasm for travel and love for feel good stories form the heartland of her writing. She lives in the UK with her wife and their two fur babies, El Comandante and Buddy. Her next book, ‘Hong Kong Lights’, will be out in July.