I recently had a weird Facebook interaction where another writer saw me say something to the effect of “Sometimes making stuff up is hard.” She disagreed. I thought it over and recanted, saying instead, “Okay, you’re right. I can make up crap all day but making up interesting stuff is hard.” Again, she disagreed. That time she said all I had to do was love life…something like that… and then I could make up interesting things with ease. To that I made a face. And we agreed to disagree after I assured her I adore my life and logged out a little perplexed. Mostly, I was all….why am I disagreeing about this on facebook? And. I could be wrong. Maybe she loves her life so very much that I can’t comprehend it and as a result she thinks of wonderfully intriguing things by the thousands. Right? I don’t know. *shrugs* So, it got me thinking.
From a girl who loves life the-Julie-amount, I can tell you with honesty: Not everything I think of is that interesting once I inspect it and draft the concept and dig out arcs and insert characters and knead and mold it in my hot little hands a while. Sometimes an interesting premise does not a novel make. At least not one I could do justice. This is a prime reason I have a file of IDEAS. They might one day grow legs and wobble, but for the time, they are filed as interesting, but not workable. I think that’s okay. It’s part of being a writer. Part of the process. After all, we’re best equipped for different storytelling at different times in our lives, our careers, states of mental health. And depending on where we are, the story will evolve differently.
There are some things in my stories that always pop up. Recurring things.Things that are part of me, like fireflies and evening skies and tall grass and lakes and cornfields. I write about willow trees and bonfires and skylines of century old barns with Mail Pouch logos, endless stars and bats swooping past the moon. I know those things. Beyond them, things I’ve read, seen or heard sneak into my stories, too. I’ve found it true that we put a piece of ourselves in every story, intentionally or not. Logically then, things I haven’t yet experienced might be exactly the inspiration I need to get that alien vampire bunny story off the ground later.
I see this truth in my fall releases. I recently finished my final read through of both a September and an October release. The September release, Deceived, was written almost four years ago and revised many times. The October release, Murder by the Seaside, was written last spring. Deceived feels like it was written by another person when compared to Murder by the Seaside. In many ways, that’s true. We writers grow and evolve quickly, constantly impacted by the craft, our reads and our life situation. I couldn’t write Deceived today, not the way it is now. I would approach it very differently because I’ve changed. The main character in Murder by the Seaside is a different story.. She’s on target with my writing style today, probably because I’m literally writing her today…book three in the series anyway. The contrast is intriguing. I enjoyed those final reads very much, and when I finish writing the third installment this summer, I’ll take a look in that IDEAS file again and see if one of those concepts inspire something new. But even before I open the file, I can tell you, inspiration doesn’t make it interesting. And making up interesting things is hard, at least for me. Taking an interesting idea all the way into a richly developed world, with fully human emotion filled characters and arching plotlines is not easy. Not for me. And for the record, I do love my crazy writer life in absurd and devastating ways. In the past few years, writing has grown roots in me deeper than the willows.