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Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Picturing it - IWSG February 2020

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. IWSG is the brainchild of Alex Cavanaugh, our brilliant ninja leader. Co-hosts for the February posting of the IWSG are Lee Lowery, Ronel Janse van Vuuren, Jennifer Hawes, Cathrina Constantine, and Tyrean Martinson. To find a list of contributors and to link to their posts, click here.

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?