Wednesday, September 25, 2013

What Inspires Authors?

My writer’s muse perked up when I visited a coffee shop to enjoy some tea and a scone one rainy afternoon. The tea looked perfect—steamy chestnut brown liquid that wooed my lips to sip its rich flavor. As tempting as the tea appeared, the opposite was true of the cranberry scone; it was dry, shriveled and unappealing. The only reason I’d chosen the treat was to avoid greasier alternatives nearby—a choice for my heart but not from my heart. ;-)

Now this snack in and of itself was not blog-worthy. It was what happened next that set my writer’s brain on overdrive: The scone tasted moist & incredibly delicious, while the cup of tea puckered my lips with the flavor of old tea leaves.

The contrast was startling and unexpected. And it drew my thoughts to how we judge people and things by their outer appearance rather than their real worth.

But there have been numerous blogs, articles and even novels that have birthed in the tiny cells of my brain by something that I’ve seen or heard along the way; the side views of life that often go unnoticed.

A couple of years ago I was a passenger in a car on a Los Angeles freeway. I noticed a billboard that practically shouted the letters, “Pain free divorce.” Is there any divorce that is completely pain free? I thought of the divorces my siblings had gone through and the ache of losing a much-loved brother or sister-in-law. I know I felt the hurt, regardless of the attitude of the couple. And I’m certain there was pain for them, whether it was acknowledged or not. That prompted yet another blog about the impact of divorce.

Sometimes my mind wanders to pieces from my childhood. This was especially true with my historical fiction, Fields of the Fatherless, which releases next month. I will always remember walking by a historic house down the street from our home in Massachusetts and my brother trying to scare me with the words, “There’s blood on the floor in there, you know.” I only wish that my brother was still alive to know that, in his attempt to scare me as a child, he left a forever impression in my blooming author’s mind. I grew up to write the amazing story that occurred at that historic site on the first day of the American Revolution.

There are so many other examples—a walk, a conversation, a book, a story that I hear, a trip that I take—that have inspired me to put the words down into an idea with a new twist and share it with others. I think that’s part of the writer’s mind: The ability to see with the mind’s eye that processes past the obvious. The key element here is astute observation.

While many walk and talk their way through life without noticing the person sitting next to them or the snippets of events surrounding them, a writer observes life and ponders the who, the where and the why. It calls for engaging with the world, rather than existing in it. In my opinion, the most creative authors are the ones who truly care enough to pay attention.

So what has inspired your writer’s muse?

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1 comment:

  1. I save bookmarks/favorites for writing contests. Many of them offer prompts that can form the foundation of a spectacular plot idea.