Monday, May 27, 2013

Best Inspiration Moment as a Writer

During my recent blog tour, a fellow blogger asked about my best inspiration moment as a writer and novelist.

As it turns out, mine was fairly dramatic, perhaps more so because of my perennial difficulty in plotting stories. And in that context, it may very well turn out to be the inspiration of a lifetime. Background is that I wrote some fiction as a youngster, then after college I wrote a first novel that I duly submitted to publishers. I didn’t realize how awful it was until I reread it after multiple rejections. Rather than rewrite it, I put fiction behind me and went on to career and family pursuits--which were picking up nicely at the time. Whole decades later, I came back to fiction after reading a love story whose ending was so abruptly despairing, I felt outrage on behalf of so many punished readers.

It was a startling development, getting back into fiction, and I probably would not have answered its siren song except that I had long had the backbone of a story in mind. But it was very basic. Boy almost meets girl in 1960s college scene bar, then they do meet later again that night, partly by chance, then have dinner. He walks her home, then they agree to a big date the following Saturday. But circumstances conspire against our lovers during the week, so that, during the date, even though they fall for each other and pledge love, they immediately go on to have a terrific row that breaks them apart, seemingly forever. But she has a change of heart and puts together a plan to get them back together.

 So that’s the story I started out with, but it clearly wasn’t nearly enough for a full length novel. I needed more, but I wasn’t really worried about it as I plunged into writing with a fervor I’d never known. During my second weekend on the project, I was holed up in my study, writing furiously on different scenes that were not well connected at that point. Sometime during the afternoon, I took a break and put down my pen. For the first time, it hit me with some force that I would need to expand the story beyond what I had thus far. I turned around in my desk chair and glanced absently at a wall of my study that’s covered with twenty-something photographs, mainly portraits of romantic couples. Suddenly the idea for a surprise ending came to me. It seemed to jump out from the photo I had been staring at. In an instant, I knew I had been given something special. Not only that, the idea flashed and mushroomed within seconds into a much larger plot concept. In order to implement the surprise ending, I would need to add at least two more characters, and I would need to develop a love triangle I hadn’t thought of until that moment. In less than a minute, I’d been given all the material I needed for the story that would become Coinage of Commitment. The book became a finalist in the National Indie Excellence Book Awards. And the story has always been special to me in a golden way. In 2012, I decided to rewrite the story wholly for the purpose of making it a better book. The digital second edition was published in January.

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