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Inspiration/Perspiration

I have ideas for novels all the time. ALL THE TIME. And especially when I’m cruising around the internet over my morning cup of coffee. Like this article about a 13-year-old falconress in Mongolia – I instantly thought, she would make for an amazing YA heroine. Or this article about a summer job pulling a rickshaw (comedic coming-of-age, right?), or this one about an asteroid hitting earth (A dystopia, but set in the past, not the future!).

But have I written any of these (obviously brilliant) books? Heck no! Because writing a book takes more than an exciting story idea – it takes a great idea, and a basic understanding of grammar, and a talent for putting words together. But most importantly, it takes plain old fashioned discipline. You have to come back to your manuscript day after day, week after week, until you’ve told the whole story, and then you have to keep working on the pages you wrote until you’ve made every sentence as good as it can be. And then you share your book with other people, and you turn their criticism into another revision. And all that (hopefully) happens before it even gets to your agent and editor for their feedback.

So for every book you see on the shelf, that’s hours and hours of patient, focused labor happening between the this would make an amazing book! moment and the first copy going home from a bookstore. That’s hours spent writing instead of sleeping, writing on vacations, writing in between doctor’s appointments or graduate classes, writing in airports or parking lots or coffee shops. Writing through writer’s block and hand cramps and carpal tunnel syndrome!

So if you like books – and of course you do, otherwise why would you be reading this blog? – then hug a writer today! Or buy them a cup of coffee, because they can probably use the caffeine.

Where do you find inspiration? 

 

2 Responses to Inspiration/Perspiration

  1. D. C. DaCosta says:

    Inspiration comes from:
    – overheard conversations (Never, ever use headphones in public — you’ll miss a lot!)
    – stories told by friends, esp. older relatives
    – newspapers, esp. the short blurbs that give only the barest outline of what happened
    – the habit of asking “What if?” What if the accident on the train tracks was actually a murder? What if the missing man faked his death? What if the helpful art professor is really the leader of a human trafficking ring?

    Possibilities are endless. Energy and time are not, alas.

    • sharon says:

      “What if” makes a great prompt! Along with, as I read somewhere recently, “and then?” (to badly paraphrase: nonfiction asks “and why?”; fiction asks “and then?”

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