I’ve written about inspiration in this blog before and talked about the various things that get an idea going in my head. A local writer friend of mine picks up snippets of conversations and jots them down. Maybe they’ll go verbatim in something he’s writing, or maybe they’ll inspire a whole new piece. You never know. You also never know where or when the muse decides to mess with your psyche.
This past week’s Friday Fictioneers’ story was, as are all Friday Fictioneers’ stories, inspired by a photograph. (If you click on the link in the first sentence, you’ll see the picture.) I’ve said before how amazing it is that the same picture can inspire widely different story interpretations of it. Last Friday’s picture lent itself almost universally to “body buried behind a wall” stories, and each one of them was unique. The comments on my story were all ego-strokes–yes, writers need them, too–but one person asked if it were the beginning of a longer piece.
Hmm. I hadn’t given that much thought, since I’m collecting the 100-word stories for inclusion in a fiction chapbook I’m drafting. I copied that story into the manuscript and added a counterpoint 100-word story as well. Then, I pretty much put the comment out of mind since I was about to head to Northern Virginia to get on a train to New York City.
On board the train, I was supposed to be writing a book review for an on-line magazine, but that comment about a longer piece began to nag at me, so much so I had to put the book I was reading for the review aside, pull out the Moleskine, and start making notes. By the time the N. E. Regional rolled into Penn Station in New York, I had a decent amount of notes about a possible new novel–no spies, no intrigue, no terrorists, no sci-fi; what’s up with that?
Throughout my weekend visiting friends on Long Island, I kept coming back to those notes, adding things, asking questions–and answering them–about possible characters and their motivations. I even decided it needed to take place in a town in the Shenandoah Valley very familiar to me, but I also decided that town needed to be fictional. A Google-search later, I had ten or twelve possible town names. Then, I decided that fictional town needed a fictional, private, women’s college, and another Google-search later, I had the name of the college.
I told myself that this idea would be perfect for this year’s National Novel Writing Month, but that’s not until November. I’m telling you, these characters are begging to be brought to life sooner than that.
Or perhaps it was just that a new tale needed to be told. I’ve been writing new short stories for the past two and a half years, but my primary focus has been on editing/revising the trilogy I want to submit to agents. A few weeks ago I had lamented to myself I hadn’t started a brand new novel project in several years.
So, one part suggestion from a reader, one part the desire to start a new project, add in pushy characters (I mean, really, they’re only nascent right now, but they are making themselves known in a big way.), and I’m pretty excited about this idea. Like, giddy and childlike about it. Not bad for an old broad writer.