Inspiration, revision truths, and silliness

This is a revision weekend. I’m actually excited about it, though I am feeling a little confused about a scene that I know should be in the book, but since I changed some things, I cannot figure out where to put it. Paging the Muse, paging the Muse, clean up in aisle three…

I had a reader question come into my Facebook. Kendall wrote: “… where (in general) do you get your inspiration and ideas for different books?”

I probably come across at least one idea that could become a novel every day. Generally, it’s a person trapped in an interesting situation, or facing a conflict that forces him/her to change and grow. This idea will pop into my head out of nowhere, or I stumble across them because of something I’m reading, some fragment of dialog I overhear, a scene I witness at an airport or the grocery store. I start to ponder: “what if….”

But not all ideas about books are robust enough to become books. Along with the initial conflict, I have to dream up a character with a rich interior life, well-defined background, and memorable secondary characters. And then I throw in setting. And then I throw in subtext; exterior image systems that reflect the character’s inner journey. And then I revise eight or eleven times and I have a breakdown or two and I pull out all my hair and I have a book.

Do you dream of writing a novel and having it published and living the life of an author? Read “My Book Deal Ruined My Life” and tell me what you think.

Nobel Prize winner (literature) Doris Lessing has a MySpace.

What if the Nobel in Literature were awarded in an alternate universe?

5 Replies to “Inspiration, revision truths, and silliness”

  1. I think I’m at a breakdown/pull my hair out stage, so this entry lifted my spirits. 😛

    p.s. I bought and read “Twisted”, and loved it! Can’t wait to read your next book~

  2. This post was actually very helpful. When I am writing i get so flustered with so many ideas that rarely does my writing come out in anyway organized after the initial flurry of activity. It is good to know I am not the only one with a breakdown, or two 🙂

  3. Since no one else has commented yet (and I thought I already did, but apparently not), I’ll just say that ‘My Book Deal Ruined my Life’ is a load of crap. If all the author is trying to say is that it’s idealistic to believe that a book deal will solve all of your problems, I agree. However, it’s written like we should all give up and never try to be published, because we’re all doomed to failure. It’s worth it to try. It’s certainly worth it to see your name in print, even if no one reads your book.

    I don’t think publishing should be the end-all of writing anyway. I write for me first and foremost. I always keep future readers in mind, but I’m really creating a work that I can be proud of, something that is in my head and begging to be written down. I couldn’t not write. I figure that since I’m doing it anyway, I’d like to try to share my work, so that other people can enjoy the stories I’ve sweated over and enjoyed for so long. That’s why I’m aiming to get published. Not because I want to be rich and famous (although I won’t complain if the money starts rolling in). :~)

  4. What if

    I have a nasty, “too much chocolate” (if there is such a thing) habit of thinking of “what if” in too narrow a tunnel. In other words, literally “what if,” forgetting completely about its twins or cousins “what could,” “what might,” and “what shouldn’t.” Do you, or any other writers you know, fall into this sandtrap? Or am I out here on the green alone (I watched “The Greatest Game Ever Played” last night so I have golf on the brain)?

    –Still giving extra credit points in Edwardsville, IL and a happy belated birthday, Laurie. 🙂

    P.S. I didn’t much care for “My Book Deal Ruined My Life,” either. It had a defeatist tone to it, as if the only reason to write is for the money and not because it is something you enjoy. That’s like becoming a teacher solely because you want 2 months off in the summer and not because you enjoy working with kids and want to help them reach their full potential. I write because I have always loved a good story and if someone enjoys my work along the way, so much the better. 🙂

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