Thursday, February 4, 2010

Inspiration is flowing (revising is not!)

I think we’re supposed to be answering where we get inspiration for our current project? In my previous post, about the “when” and “how” of writing, I included a few sources of inspiration: walking at night with my dog, having seriously creepy and malicious neighbors, MUSIC--both for mood of characters and setting and also to help me with word count issues on picture books. I also mentioned that I wrote a book about a girl whose family moves, inspired by need in my school social work job. My work with children and families in the fields of child welfare, mental health, and education provided many ideas as to more issue-oriented stories, as have my own life experiences with infertility and adoption. I think about writing adoption stories that are helpful to parents as well as picture books for young children. Catholicism is chock-full of ideas with which the characters in my YA or adult novel will struggle. I definitely want to explore themes like how young women find their identities or let others define them, the nature of love, spirituality versus religion, what it means to be a “good” person.

It’s kind of surprising to me how once I got out of the technical grad-school writing mode and re-opened the creative part of my brain, I could find bits of inspiration everywhere. If I’m walking at night, the foggy silence (with “mistful” moon of course!) could lend itself to an entire scene playing out in my head. Or maybe I pass by something that could become a small piece of some future story--like this house on my usual route where different bird houses, chimes, and weather instruments hang from nearly every branch of the tree in the backyard. Perhaps a painting or photograph of a person or building catches my eye. Maybe I snap a picture myself if something strikes me--an eerily-lit tree or a path winding through the woods?

As mentioned in my previous post, perhaps parts of conversations I overhear will transform into complete characters or whole plotlines. I love words in general, and a funny turn of phrase or an interesting quote could conjure up new facets of characters already living in my brain. News stories that pop up online get filed away for potential later use (mystery of New England’s “dark day” in 1780 solved, European village where rent hasn’t changed since 1520, scholar claims to find lost Jewish capital of the Khazars). If I am writing for a class deadline, I might simply think about what holidays are approaching--Mother’s Day? Halloween? Out comes a picture book story. The most fun ideas come from my 4-year-old. I often jot down the funny things he says and think how I could build stories around them.

As far as my current project? That would be gestating twins and trying to move to a bigger house. Instead of jotting down a hundred ideas for “later,” I should really focus on trying to revise the drafts of things already completed. Since my doc is quite conservative, bedrest may end up being my inspiration...


  1. Dialog of prenatal twins sounds great!

  2. You have a lot of great material. Look at the bright side, if you end up on bedrest you'll have a lot of writing time to use all of that material. Once the twins are born I'm sure you'll have lots of stories to tell.

  3. If you end up on bed rest, don't get lazy. When I was on bed rest, I promised myself that I'd finish a book before I left the hospital. I spent my time ordering pizza and being too bored to write.

  4. I like the idea of filing away unusual news stories. What is it that they say? Reality is often stranger than fiction.