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Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Listening to our Voices - IWSG August 2017



 It's IWSG Day.  The goal of this blog hop is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds. The brainchild of Alex Cavanaugh, our brilliant ninja leader.  To read posts from other members, click here.

One night about seven years ago, I lay in bed in that twilight zone between waking and sleeping.  A sentence came into my mind and I liked it enough to force myself to get up and write it down. A few months later I used it as the first line in what I now call one of my practice novels. I had no idea of the story behind the sentence, but once those few words came to me, I was off and running, figuring out who said that line and to whom it referred. Before long, I had a cast of characters around which to build a tale.

A personal essay I read in Yankee Magazine triggered my next novel (I’m still praying this one isn’t just practice.) An artist’s rendering on the page featured a damaged tree branch held up by a home-made crutch. I summoned up an image of a kid sitting on the branch swinging his legs, and that’s where my next story began, with that boy in the tree.

For the next novel, I was ready to begin a new story, but I didn’t have a plot, until I asked myself the following question. “What is the worst thing that could happen to a person like me?” Before long I’d conjured up a recent widow who discovers her late husband had a previous wife she hadn’t known about, and who, as a result of his oversight, inherits the bulk of his estate while his widow remains broke. There’s some truth behind this premise. Many moons ago, I worked with a long-time second wife who was left with nothing when her husband died because he neglected to update his life insurance paperwork. 

I’m editing that story now but lately, I’ve been wondering what I’ll write the next time. So, imagine how pleased I was the other night, when again in the wee hours, an opening scene came to me:


At first Lucia thought the ringing was a part of her dream. By the time she realized it wasn’t, James had picked up his cell.  He spoke into it, his voice hoarse with sleep. 


Truth be told, I have no idea who Lucia or James are but you betcha, sometime soon I’ll figure it out.

My point in all this? Inspiration is everywhere. We have to listen to the voices that speak to us at night. Remember the thoughts that hit us in the shower. Think about what we read. Concentrate on the conversations taking place around us. We have to watch people at the store, on trains, on planes. Anything may trigger an idea for a story.

Listen to this. The other day at work a friend told me how her father had purchased an old New York taxi cab when she was a child. As a little girl she'd climb out of her swimming pool and wrap herself up in a towel. The taxi would be warmed by the sun and she climb into it to dry off while snacking on potato chips she dipped into catsup. Isn’t that a neat scene? I can’t wait to see how it plays out in a future project.

21 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That would be a scary situation. Glad I'm sticking to wife number one.
Keep working on that story!

Jan Morrison said...

What a great topic! I was inspired to write one book by a conversation I heard at a gallery opening. I love how these stories fly into our lives and hearts and must be obeyed! I was very interested to hear about your two wives story as that was an important part of a novel that I wrote a number of years ago (may be a practice novel as well!). In that case I wasn't inspired to write about that it just happened to be part of the story as it unfolded, and I'd have to say I was quite surprised by it. I did have an acquaintance whose father was found to have two complete families in different cities. The story always intrigued me.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Story sparks, scene sparks, really are everywhere. We just need to pay attention. :)

Now I'm wondering who Lucia and James are! And I love the taxi cab memory/scene.

Natalie Aguirre said...

So agree with you that ideas are everywhere. I always love hearing where writers get their ideas.

cleemckenzie said...

It only takes a "few" sleepless nights to bring a book into the world. Here's to enjoying yours.

Chrys Fey said...

In the wee hours is always when I get new story ideas. :)

Pat Garcia said...

Hi,
I so agree. Inspiration is everywhere. I have woken up many nights with ideas and have written them down. That's why I keep my iPad right beside my bed.

Shalom aleichem,
Patricia at Everything Must Change

Rhonda Gilmour said...

Thanks for sharing your inspiring scenarios. I've started stories based on dreams, and I have a running list of interesting snatches of conversation or weird phrases that just come to me.

Joanne said...

I like your examples of your inspirations. And they all sound like they'll turn into great books. Hope you are making good progress and happy with your characters. Writing is such a leap of faith and adventure. It sounds like you are in a good place with it. Continued success and "inspirations".

Nick Wilford said...

You're right, inspiration is everywhere. Sometimes we have to slow down to let it seep in. Good luck with your future projects!

mshatch said...

I too find inspiration everywhere and have a million snippets written down in files, possible beginnings, maybe stories. An interview with an author on NPR inspired me recently. We'll see if it takes me anywhere or gets me lost in the weeds, lol.

Diane Burton said...

You are so right about inspiration coming from all different places. Like you, I've been in that twilight between awake and asleep and gotten the first sentence to a story. It kicks off so many ideas. I love it. Keep listening to those "voices" in your head.

Yolanda Renée said...

That's the way they come, and then expand. You go where they take you. Love it! I do the same.

KT Wagner said...

Story ideas are a gift. I wish mine also came with a story middle and end. :)

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I can't say that one sentence or one scene inspired an entire novel for me, but I love how you can do that.

Paula Radell said...

I've been afraid I wouldn't come up with another book idea I'd feel as passionate about as my current one, which is based on an event that happened in my family, and a few scenes from my life as a nurse. But you're right - if you're open to it, there's inspiration everywhere, and on my last "writing retreat" I came up with an idea I love so much it's hard not to start writing it at the same time as my current WIP. I enjoyed reading your thoughts.

Jennifer Hawes said...

Inspiration does come from everywhere! That's why I enjoy playing tourist in our town. You never know when it will come.

Connie said...

I enjoyed reading these snippets of inspiration of yours and how they came to you. Being observant and aware of our surroundings and listening to the people in them are great ways to spur story ideas. The little girl in the taxi scene does beg for further information. :)

Michelle Wallace said...

I love the way your stories evolved.
Inspiration is all around. We just have to be open to receiving new ideas. They come in different forms and often when we least expect them.

Anne Gallagher said...

My first novel was a dream during nap time when Monster was a baby. I know I wrote it down somewhere. Wish I could find it.

Arlee Bird said...

I've gotten some of those dream inspirations. Sometimes if I wake up in the middle of the night and write down what seems like a significant line or idea, later after I'm awake I'll look at what I've written and it makes little sense. Then other times my notes seem like the beginning of something extraordinary.

So true that inspiration is everywhere. I get so many ideas from what is around me that most get forgotten and never see fruition on the page. If writers aren't be continually assaulted with inspiration then they need to focus on whatever ideas they do have and hope they are good ones.

Arlee Bird
Tossing It Out