Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Inspiration comes from anywhere and everywhere

Over at Gretchen McNeil's v-logs, her current video entry talks about how a seemingly weird choice of a book was, in fact, the reason she decided to give the whole writing thing a go. On the outskirts of it, it is a weird choice--Anthony Bourdain's "Kitchen Confidential" is not what I would call "inspirational."

But for Gretchen it very much was. She liked/loved the voice of the writing, calling it "over educated snark," which appeals to her personality greatly. Indeed, upon reading her debut novel, Possess, I became quite aware of her level of snarky goodness. (And I alluded to such in my review.)

This made me want to talk about why I wrote my book, Memories of the Dead, which I hope one day you'll all be able to read. I wrote it not because of any book, but because of a person: my wife, Tammy.

You see, my wife would sit at home bored out of her gourd, and being a voracious reader, she would often run out of books to read--bought or loaned, it didn't matter; she would devour them quicker than I could imagine. Which is a good thing, especially since I can ask her "Hey, is that any good?" And she can go off to explain the text in pretty deep detail to me--allowing me to determine if I need to stick my nose in it or not. Good stuff.

Well, one day, while she was home, bored, I wrote what would eventually become chapter one of Memories of the Dead, and posted it on my Facebook account. I even said that I didn't know if I would continue it, as it was intended as a mere distraction and nothing more. But she liked it and asked me to continue. So I did.

I was absolutely sure the story was about five thousand words in full length, and nothing more; so I figured, why not, I can do a little here and there and presto-chango...a little diversion for her. No biggie, right?

Well, I was wrong.

Each week, I would write on either a Tuesday or a Thursday, and put it up on my page. And quickly I learned that five thousand words is nothing--I shot past that supposed limit with ease, and the tale was still not anywhere near complete.

Uh, oh. Looks like I keep going...see where this all leads. So, that's what I did. Soon, there was twenty thousand words gone: not done. Then forty thousand. Then when I hit 50K, finally I could actually see the end in sight!

Afterwords some polish and cut out some "shiz," grammar fixing, and--poof--at approximately sixty-eight thousand words, I had a book. All in all, about thirteen months from begin to end.

Not just a book, but a novel, I thought. I was sort of shocked. I searched every Google-inspired link to see "how long is a novel," and discovered that there's no clear consensus, but pretty much everyone agreed that 50K is "novel" length--albeit kind of short.

Dumbfounded, I had--through no real intent on my part--just so I could amuse and distract my wife, written a novel-length story.

WTF? How did that happen?

It happened because I wanted to amuse/distract/make happy someone whom I love. It wasn't about what I read, it was about who I wanted happy. That's where my motivation came from--she is the reason: she is my inspiration.

So, when you pick up a copy for your Kindle or Nook, and on page one you see "For Tammy," know that that is the most literal thing there is I can say. It was, is, and will always be her story: I wrote it for her.

Where you get your motivation or inspiration from can be anywhere or anything (or in my case) anyone. As a writer--published or not--it behooves you to cultivate inspiration around you. From interesting places, things, or people. Family, friends, loved ones of all sort. Each of these are a story in-and-of-themselves just waiting to be set free. Heck, I have a story brewing in my head because I saw some almost-ready-for-harvest corn stalks.

Yeah, corn. You know, the om-nom-nom kind you buy and boil and eat? Yeah, that corn. Someday, be sure to ask me about it. It's weird.

Motivation and inspiration, my glorious friends, can be found anywhere; and that's where you need to go.

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