February’s question: Has a single photo or work of art ever inspired a story? What was it and did you finish it?
Long-time followers of Middle Passages may remember the photos I used to post after taking daily walks with an honest-to-goodness camera hanging around my neck. I used the resulting images as inspiration to jump-start my writing.
Almost six years ago, I went out one foggy May morning. Mist gives ordinary things a touch of the ethereal and that day, I photographed a dilapidated house perched on a saltwater pond, emerging from brush and vapor. Something about the place spoke to me, and once downloaded, the photo spurred me to write a flash fiction piece for Middle Passages. At the time, the piece was simply a writing exercise, a way to force myself to get words on to a page. But at some point, and I honestly can't remember when, I committed myself to that little vignette and ultimately, that snippet grew into the novel I’m currently querying.
For today’s essay, I scrolled through Middle Passages to that original post from May, 2014. I was delighted to find that in spite of something like seventeen drafts, full chapter re-writes demanded by my writing group, editorial changes, and revisions based on comments from a friendly reader, some of the same language and rhythm from that original blog post remain on the first page of my novel, The Beneficiary.
Almost six years ago, when I wrote that flash fiction post, I included the following under the picture:
When all else fails and you can't come up with a topic for a blog post, take a picture and use it as a writing prompt.
It’s a practice I recommend to this day. Who knows? You may be surprised to find in addition to a bit of flash fiction, a novel might claw its way out.
What single thing has inspired you to write?