I get asked about inspiration for my writing and where stories come from fairly regularly by readers who have become long-distance friends (all my friends are long distance at this point…even the ones whose kids live in my son’s school district, but you know).
And that’s a difficult thing to speak to. I’ve tried several times here before, and if you choose the ‘writing’ tag, you can read some of them. But I’m not sure I’ve ever really made anything clear. Where stories come from is nebulous and mysterious, even to me, a lot of the time. Sometimes I just feel like I have to write and sometimes I feel like I can’t write, even though I want to.
But to hopefully combat one of those ‘having a hard time writing new stuff’ stretches that I’m currently experiencing, I thought I’d reveal (without getting too specific and identifying) some real people, places, events, and experiences in my life that appear in my novels.
There really is a restaurant J takes me to (when it’s safe to go there; now we’re just getting take out) to celebrate special occasions that has delicious fried green tomatoes on the menu, and this building does contain a set of narrow stairs leading up to the second floor dining room.
I really did work 8 years for a home construction company, and one of my jobs there was as a construction estimator. And yeah…the construction guys? They were nice. Sometimes a little rough around the edges or coarse, but kind and honest and good friends who never treated me with any kind of disrespect because I was a woman. And the salesmen? Kinda pretentious and sexist assholes. I do have a younger brother who is significantly younger than me, and I had a TIME with online dating before I met J, and it was not a fun time. I really used to go bowling and play euchre with a group of guys when I was in college and early adulthood. So for the first love story I ever wrote…well, I’m not a redhead, and beyond appearance, there are many things different between her and me, but a lot of Jessica’s early adulthood experiences came from a real place.
I really do have a guy best friend who is great and amazing and we’ve never dated each other. He has inspired pieces of Kurtis Richardson and Josh Shepard and Paul Hemingway and Rory Jennings. In fact, Rory is nearly EXACTLY like him.
My son isn’t a ‘sports’ kid. He’s quiet and smart and a whole lot like Drew Patterson, but he’s also sort of like Matt Evers.
I really do have pretty bad episodes of anxiety and panic and Impostor Syndrome and C-PTSD sometimes. And I’m quiet and keep to myself a lot, and I have a hard time feeling like I’ve made a strong connection to other people or can trust other people. Which is a lot like Samantha Jenkins/Goodman and Stephanie Bamford. And it’s also kind of like Tommy Dietz.
I used to swim at the YMCA pool as my preferred workout for about a year. Like Deanna Berger and Jake Coleman. And also kind of like Bridget Keller and David Turcotte.
I’ve written some about a few of these specific stories, and other ones (songs that inspired the writing; real life inspiration for writing) before. And I wish I could work on something new now. I’m no sure what’s causing me to stall, but I have an idea. I’m just not observing very many people in the past year. I’m not going out. I’m not having any human interaction, and I’m not even SEEING much human interaction beyond my own home and fiction someone else has already written; stories that someone else has already created. I’m in need of some new stories. Hopefully with these vaccines, I’ll be able to find some sooner rather than later. Until then…I’ll still be social distancing and reading and watching the stories other people have made and been generous enough to share with me.