Family myths are the richest to mine for stories. Family myths are things that a great aunt or uncle might have done, where they may have worked, lives they may – or may not – have lived.
It is rumored that one of my great grandmothers was Hoffa’s ex-girlfriend. Although when we tried to match up the timeline, it didn’t quite match; however, given a few corrections here and there – who knows?! It’s fun to think about.
Another family myth involves my grandfather – even telling the story here feels like I’m giving away secrets about my family, but my grandmother swore to her dying day that the tale was myth.
My grandfather was shot in the back by a police officer. A number of different stories are told as to why he was shot, but the officer stated he was aiming for his legs.
My grandfather was over 6 feet tall. The cop must have been the worst shot in the world if he was aiming at his legs.
My grandmother lived with people creating myths as to why he was shot. She would tell us stories about aunts and cousins who came to her asking for the truth, asking for money, asking for what they believed my grandmother had which caused his death. I was present for one such argument before my grandmother passed of a cousin asking her for the truth before she died. Grandma’s Last Secret is about one of those myths.
I love family myths so much, that I’m planning to write more stories about them. Maybe I’ll write “Hoffa’s Runaway Bride” someday.
I read friend’s blog about Conspiracy Theories; it inspired me to write this blog.
I published a story about conspiracy theories in which a few of the characters believe that the microchip is a government tracking device. I believe it appeared in the first issue of Delphinium.
I don’t believe these theories, but I do find some of them interesting. I wonder how they begin. Who is the person that starts them? For example, how did the flat earth conspiracy begin? I was speaking to someone who believes wholeheartedly the world is flat and scientists have been covering for the government for centuries!
We had a rather long discussion of proof wherein he finally said, “Are you only going to believe credentialed sources?”
Uhm. Yes. Sorry. (one of the problems with our country is that people are believing any old damn thing they read on social media or the internet without checking where it comes from. – and another reason why my credentials are published for all to see).
I stumped him with – what is the purpose of hiding the “truth” that the earth is flat? What could be gained by our earth not being round?
I don’t want to tell you his answer.
What does this have to do with writing? EVERYTHING! These conspiracy theories may begin by word of mouth, but someone writes them down and shares them – especially today when everyone and his brother has a website.
This can affect your character – do they believe in any of these? Is your MC an otherwise educated person who is concerned about the identification chips in his dog? Or do they question – maybe not believe – but question the validity of fluoride in our water as a means to mind control?
Or – write a story about one of the theories. There’s a full list on Wiki.
Or – make up your own!
Enjoy – because, you know, because the powers that be want you to laugh at the list.
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
Sometimes Amazon does their own thing.
Once I saw my book Eddy was on sale far below what I’d seen before. I contacted the publisher who told me that Amazon had put it on sale to compete with another website. Really?
Well, they’ve done it again; my book, $1.00 Stories, is on sale. Or, at least, as I write this it is.
$1.00 Stories is about an author whose success is not enough and a homeless man who has what he wants.
I enjoy imagining people’s stories. I think all writers do. $1.00 Stories originally appeared in The Chicago Tribune’s Printers Row Journal.