Have you ever been inspired by a story? I imagine many people have: hence, fan fiction. I’m inspired by characters and what could have happened.
Think of The Great Gatsby. Fitzgerald, so it’s said, hated the hypocrisy. Parties, and alcohol, and politicians who took part or did nothing. Daisy – hated her. Would have loved to see her get her due. I don’t know how I felt about Gatsby himself. I wanted something more for him, realization or redemption.
I was inspired to write a part two in which one of those two things happened. Of course, I’d have to somehow bring Gatsby back to life first. Still working on it.
There’s nothing wrong in being inspired by other authors, other stories, other’s characters. As a writer, these things should strike us.
Use the last story you read as a prompt – take a character or a location and tell your own story.
Have you heard something like “don’t piss off a writer, they may kill you off in a book.”
I guess it’s a threat to make people not want to cross a writer, make them afraid they’ll be named. An odd thing is sometimes people think I put them in a book or poem even though they hadn’t occurred to me at all during the writing. Then there are those who want to be in a story.
I had a friend cancel plans on me at the very last moment. Not a problem, except this was at the long end of his excuses and bs, so I was done. The funny thing – he wasn’t. He sent me an unending barrage of drunken text messages: it seems, in his liquid bravado, he admitted he’d wanted me to make him famous.
“wat wil u writ but me if u nvr gve me shce”
read one of this texts. A day later:
“I cuold be ur bes t s tory vr!”
A few years after that, someone asked me what chapter they would be.
I don’t take people wholly and insert them into a story. There are just little bits and parts, an essence, a scent, a glance. They are a single speckle of mortar in the building of a house. I guess, one might argue, they are then in a story, poem, book, but they’ll never actually be named.
All families have secrets. I think that’s why some of us become fiction writers. Maybe, much to our family’s horror.
Secrets released in fiction is like water under pressure – there’s a spurt which resembles something other than what it really is. So, mostly, our family is safe.
Some secrets come to us second hand – the things people told us, what we know of other families, friends, acquaintances. In all honesty, these are my favorites.
The Gold Tooth is an amalgamation of family secrets. These are separate things from different people whispered to me at times, laughed about at other times, assumptions from other people – all mixed up in a writer’s brain to spurt out under the pressure of a story.
My grandmother told me a story in which a mother, in trying to teach her children biggest is not best, used to offer the children unmarked gifts in various sizes. Whoever choose based on the biggest gift didn’t necessarily received the best gift.
A friend told me she’d inherited teeth from an aunt.
Another friend provided details about an uneven and questionable disbursement of a will and trust.
They all mashed together to create this story of a mother who tried to teach her daughters a lesson, protect one, maybe both, by the terms of a her will.
Feel free to tell your secrets to a fiction writer. They’ll never tell the whole truth.
An extremely good conversation in my literature class about intelligence (Inspired by Ted Chiang’s The Great Silence). We talked about other species that fall under the definition of intelligence, which is “the ability to understand and apply knowledge.” Considering Alex the Parrot and Koko the Gorilla, and other species: crows are problem solvers and remember faces. We discussed dogs, cats, and others. Is love, as an abstract idea, understood and applied by animals? And then – is intelligence found in showing love?
This is what good literature should do. Teach, delight, and create wonder.
Read The Great Silence here
How do you keep track of your submissions?
I keep a log of when, where, and what I’ve submitted. I also updated it when my piece is rejected, accepted, or haven’t heard from the publisher.
There are a number of ways to keep logs, either by date, title, or other.
I keep mine by date of submission, but it’s easily searchable if I want to find out where and when I submitted anything specific.
I also keep a log of places not to submit again. It’s a very short list, but if you run across an editor who is unprofessional or a journal that operates with questionable practices, you should keep track.
Using submittable as your tracking system works if you don’t submit to journals or publishers who are not members, as I do, but I find their site challenging to navigate when I’m looking for a certain title I may have submitted at different time periods. My list is long and some journals don’t actually update.
I’ve had a few things accepted (or rejected) and the publisher has not updated my submission on the site; therefore, it appears to still be in process.
I find my own log more easy to navigate.
“Don’t be afraid of failure. The reality is that most people successes rise out of the ashes of their previous failures.”
From a new documentary on Netflix titled Creativity. The narrator is talking to the creator of Game of Thrones. The creator is talking about how many times he’s failed.
I started this to say – what are you afraid of?
Then I wanted to ask – what if there was no such thing as fear? What would you do? What could you do?
I want you to think about that. What if fear was not in the human range of emotion or thought?
I think I read Writing Down the Bones maybe more than 20 years ago. I do believe it’s still on my bookshelf. I keep books that have spoken to me.
Although one website says it’s a good book for beginning writers, I think we might all find some inspiration in these pages.
In yoga, sometimes we go back to level one, we go back to the training. After so many years of doing it, so many teachers putting their own twists on it, so many times we’ve worked with (or around) an injury – it’s good to go back to the basics.
I see nothing wrong with doing that in writing either.
Writing Down the Bones – a book by Natalie Goldberg. This site gives you a generous sampling of the book.
I’m planning to pick it up again – see what else I can learn, what I might relearn.