Guys, I’m in a rut.*
I’m trudging along with my current book as one does, albeit at a glacial pace. This story has dug its heels in like a recalcitrant toddler. It doesn’t want to be written. I don’t want to write it. The antipathy is rather mutual. I thought today’s blog post would be about inspiration in the hopes that I might find some for my current WIP.
When I thought of the inspiration for my works, one thing cropped up again and again: place. Did you know that my first novel after graduating from college was inspired by a trip to the Bird Cage Theater in Tombstone, Arizona? True story. I wrote a historical western about a buckskin wearing heroine who played poker and was falsely accused of robbing the town bank.
No, you may not read it. I’m hoping it’s lost to all posterity.
My first published novel, The Happy Hour Choir, came about as I was contemplating how horrible being named Beulah Land would be if you didn’t live up to heavenly behavior. What really got the book going, however, was seeing a little cinder block bar out in the middle of nowhere. Never once have I visited that bar, but it served as my inspiration for The Fountain.
Book two, Bittersweet Creek, has a setting very near and dear to my heart. Almost none of my readers
would recognize the farmhouse that belongs to the Satterfields, but, in my mind, it’s my Granny’s house. I also used several of the outbuildings, including a barn that’s no longer there. The old green house that meant so much to me will now live on in fiction, if not in reality.
Better Get to Livin’ has a unique inspiration in Casey’s Funeral Home in Henderson. Not only have I attended about a bajillion funerals there, but I also used to play “Taps” for military funerals and spent more than one afternoon cooling my jets in the back kitchen. I also included a trailer park in homage to my formative years.
My novella, tentatively titled Orange Blossom Special, didn’t take off until I started envisioning places I’d been. I used Knoxville for that one, both the University of Tennessee campus and the old Tennessee Theatre. I also toured Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium over the summer so I could include it. Before I turn in the final draft, I’m going to visit General Neyland’s grave, too.
Gentle reader, as I write about these places, I realize I don’t have one for my current work in progress. Hmmm. Could it be that, in writing to you, I have stumbled upon the solution my problems? Time will tell. In the meantime, what inspires you? What do you do to refill the well? Readers, do you like to read about actual places?
*Funny story: I attended church services at a different church on Sunday, and the preacher included a line about how a rut is “a grave with the ends kicked out.” Kinda inspired me to get out of mine, if you know what I mean.
P.P.S. Important note: I will often write about places that actually exist, but I never intentionally write about people who exist. Any resemblance you might see to someone you know, is completely coincidental. Well, there is the character I quite loosely based on a dead person, but that’s another story for another day.