I suppose I was under the misguided thought that everyone around me knew that I was a closet writer… By closet writer, I mean that I had never intended to publish anything I was writing–obviously that changed! However, after publishing my book, and even immediately before when I was asking people for opinions on the book cover I had created from some pictures I had taken, I had a lot of people respond to me with surprise about my being a writer.
“You wrote a book?” is by far the most frequent of the questions I received, but it was usually followed by something else. “How long is the book?” “Like a book-book?” “A whole book?” these questions were relatively easy to answer and not really surprising, but I got a couple of questions, so far, that really jumped out at me.
One of them caught me a little off-guard: “how do you come up with the ideas?” This one followed the announcement that I have a folder on my computer with 20-30 different stories in it that are (all but one) incomplete. This one also made me pause, because I never really stopped to think about my characters or my stories… Their stories more or less just come to me as I’m writing and when I get stuck, I walk away for a little while, re-read everything that I’ve written so far, and usually get to pick back up where I left off with a new idea. But where do the ideas come from? When I really stopped to think about it, I realized even the simplest little mention of something will trigger some wild tangent of a thought in my head (sometimes) and it has a tendency to resurface when I go to write. I certainly draw inspiration from my daily events, or bigger life events. I did a study abroad in Ireland a while back, and it has become a part of a few of my stories… One that occurred to me while I was in Ireland, and one that occurred after I got back.
Another that got me was related to that one, where someone asked me (more or less) if my characters “talked” to me. And really, I feel like I’m telling their stories, not my own. I’m not writing the story of my life, I’m writing the story of their lives, so I would have to say that they definitely do speak to me in some form or fashion. It did make me wonder if some writers have internal conversations with their characters in their imagination…? Anyone?
I’d definitely have to say that related to those same questions was “do you sit down and write the story straight through or do you take breaks or…?” This one is linked back up to the answer I gave a minute ago. I have a folder on my computer with about 20-30 different stories that are incomplete. I work on whichever one I have an idea for, and on the off chance that I have complete “writer’s block” on ALL of them, I just start re-reading through them until I get an idea for one of them. I think it’s really beneficial, for me at least, to have multiple stories to work on because I don’t get frustrated with hitting an idea wall for a particular story, I just walk away for a bit and usually have an idea for something else.
I’m sure there will be more questions to come, and I’m sure I’ve had more questions, but those have been the ones that jumped out at me the most and really made me have to think about my writing process. I have, of course, received a lot of questions about how I went about publishing my book myself, but that’s a whole other topic, and again, one that has been well documented already so I’m not sure if I’m going to address it here.