A blog about writing and all things story…
I don’t know how other authors find their muse, stay inspired and focused while they craft their 300-400 page megillah – for you non-Yiddish speakers, a megillah is slang for a long-winded story – but for me it’s about studying
the masters (great authors) and emulating the basics of what they have done. Nobody can write famous first sentences like those found in Prince of Tides, “My wound is geography. It is also my anchorage, my port of call” like Pat Conroy , because he lived it, and wrote those lines from his own wounds. Or Toni Morrison, “Freeing yourself was one thing, claiming ownership of that freed self was another” from Beloved, a line that is generations deep and born of sorrow. And though those great lines came from the depth of their souls and are not in my DNA, other things are. So as I read their masterful words I am inspired to write distinctive lines based on a life journey unique to me.
Currently I am about 100 pages into my next novel, Garden of Lies, (here’s the Pinterest page) and though I find it difficult to write a synopsis until I finish the book, here is a ROUGH draft of a brief PLOT premise:
Post WWII, when the surviving, clairvoyant daughter of a Concentration Camp prisoner is discovered by a secret society of Hitler’s inner circle to be living in Portland Oregon they descend on her believing she holds the lost key to the Third Reich’s new world order – she must once again defend herself or die.
Okay, that’s a wordy sentence or two (am editing), but you get the drift….
Anyway, when I write I look for inspiration and also study how other authors have successfully written what I want to write. I then internalize what they do and create my own path, based on the trail blazed by those who went before.
Currently, I am reading like books (like Garden of Lies), which is what we writers do (or should do), and I’m currently steeped into one of the greats, House of the Spirits. It’s luscious, profound, funny, disturbing and spiritual on so many levels. God, I want to write like this! If you’ve never read it or haven’t read it (like me) in many years, revisit this gorgeous novel that inspires me to create my own similar-ish story. And no, similar-ish is not Yiddish, it’s just me making up my own words.
Another novel that gripped my heart and kept me turning pages is Sarah’s Key, which was just made into a movie that I bought and watched and loved. Both these novels deal with the subject matters I am dealing with in Garden of Lies: spirits, ghosts, the holocaust, violence, love and forgiveness. All of these are enormous universal themes and complex when trying to distill them into one single story. That’s why I read: to see how others have done it, to follow the path they blazed, to create my own journey and a journey my readers will happily follow.
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Author, Editor, Speaker, Storytelling Coach, Writing Instructor, and Director of The Outlaw's Journey Prison Writing Project
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