I’ve been going through quite a bit of upheaval in my life of late. A dear friend passed away and even though she was elderly, the timing of it was a shock. She went peacefully in her sleep, which is what she consistently said was the way she wanted to go, but I don’t think I was actually ready for it to happen even though I knew given her age and medical condition it could happen literally any day – and it did.
The writer in me has been paying attention to all the emotions that I am experiencing as a result of this event and I am also paying attention to those around me. I believe that this is what successful writers do – and remember successful is measured in more ways than just financial. When I read stories that pull me in to the point that I can feel the characters and the emotions that they are experiencing I suspect that the author has either experienced those emotions him/herself or is one heck of a talented observer.
I have often said that life provides writers with an incredible palette of interesting people to observe and mix from in creating their own fiction, but it’s not just people we experience in the here and now. History is full of interesting characters from which to pull attributes when creating our own characters. Scott Turow in an interview in the book section of USAToday makes reference to Greek Mythology as a source of inspiration for his writing.
You can find the interview with Scott Turow at:
Not only does he discuss character development but one of the questions asked by the interviewer delves into the best and worst things about being a writer and one of the worst mentioned involved re-writes, which I suspect won’t come as much of a surprise to most writers. At conferences the discussion of re-writes and how we all feel about them is a common theme.
Mr. Turow made another interesting observation in that he states that, “All authors really write only one book.” I found this very interesting and it is causing me to reflect back to many conversations with established writers about having to write the same book (or at least the same type of book) over and over again and the challenge of coming up with unique characters and plot points to make their work fresh and appealing. It’s an interesting issue and one that I think plays out in movies as well and perhaps any other artistic medium which essentially becomes entertainment.
It’s a double-edged sword because often fans want more of the same because it’s what they enjoy and publishers (or movie studios) want more of the same because it made money. So, for the successful writer who wants to remain successful, sources of inspiration are as important as anything else, if not more so.
So, what are some of your sources of inspiration?