Finding Inspiration


As a writer, I’m always looking for my next source of inspiration. Granted, I’m not exactly writing the next Nobel Prize winning novel, but I do like for my story ideas to have weight behind them. Sure the characters I write are pretty and have amazing sex, but I want my characters to be people I recognize; people who struggle with everyday life issues. People I might like to sit down and drink a glass of wine with.

In truth, inspiration usually finds me before I go looking for it. The writer in me is always watching, always listening, always wondering….and as such sometimes those “brilliant” ideas of mine come from the oddest places.

Let’s start at the beginning. Yes, I’d spent years writing before I actually published my first book, but those long-ago yammerings of my brain were very rarely thought out completely as any good novel should be. I suppose that’s how we learn. Anyway, as most of you know, the inspiration for my first book, “Losing Faith”, was based in part on the heartache I struggled with after losing a dear friend to breast cancer. I certainly didn’t need much research with that project. I knew far too much about the disease and its impact on the caregivers to know exactly what my characters were thinking and feeling. I took my pain and I bled over the pages of that book, and as such I found a way to deal with my grief.

I’ve written a lot of books…most of which will never see the light of day. But as such, I’ve had a lot of inspiration. As I said, the inspiration usually finds me. That can be either in the words of a song, a commercial on television, or even something someone says in passing.

A book I hope to publish sometime this year was inspired and created during a hike with my husband. Literally the entire story was outlined in my head while I trudged after him, panting and sweating and sucking in air; a story that came to life after watching his booted feet stomp over dried leaves on the ground.

Weird, I know.

Sadly, much of my inspiration comes from pain or experiences that I’ve witnessed firsthand. My beloved aunt, who recently passed away after 10+ years of struggling with Alzheimer’s, was the inspiration for a book I wrote a few years back about a girl whose father struggles with the same disease. As with “Losing Faith”, my own painful experience of watching my aunt struggle for unending years with this disease gave me a lot of (probably too much) knowledge about it.

Music has always been a huge inspiration for my writing. I’m one of those people who always has to have music on in the house, probably because my musician father always does and that’s what I was raised around. I was thrilled to put my love for music as a centerpiece to a new book I hope to release about a rock musician and the country girl who captures his heart. Each chapter was inspired by a song, which was a fun change from the usual way I write.

I suppose good inspiration we writers stumble upon is similar to the inspiration an artist or painter must have. Taking an idea and putting that idea down to share with the world can be daunting. And like art, writing is completely subjective. I’m happy to say that I was inspired to mix together a writer’s and artist’s world in the final book of a 4-part series I just completed (the first book in the series will be released in June).

I sometimes wonder when the inspiration will end. Most stories have been told in one form or the other. But I continue to remind myself that every story I write, is brand new to me, and therefore brand new to the reader. Sure, the subject matter may have been covered in someone else’s book, but as with each stroke of an artist’s brush, each word I generate is given a breath because I’ve written it. Love and relationships are mostly the same novel to novel, but it’s the writer’s own take on that idea that brings the story – the inspiration - to life.

I currently have a bunch of ideas for stories that have been inspired by a variety of things. Some may actually turn into novels I will eventually release. Others will gather dust because the words refuse to take flight.

Let me close with this one oddity (because we writers are so very strange sometimes): As I said before, I’ve written many books. The early ones are awful. Truly awful. But the inspiration behind the story idea certainly was not. I have tried to use that same inspiration in a re-write a few of the badly written stories I put down on paper years ago…and I just can’t do it. Garbage or not, those story ideas of long ago will stay buried. There’s no do-over for this girl. Every new story is a new inspiration.

What inspires you to write? What inspires you in your daily life? Is it your family and friends, your job, your faith? Are you inspired by quotes that make you think, witty people you encounter on social media, or simply by watching your children play in the back yard.

Inspiration comes to all of us in many varied and beautiful forms. Let it in, let it flourish and allow it to enrich your life. Hopefully, if we’re all very lucky, life inspiration will continue to surprise us for years and years to come.

AJ

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