Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Hold That Thought!

Welcome Judy Nickles who shares her writing fear, and how she overcomes it.

What is the bane of any writer’s existence? A blank piece of paper/empty computer screen. . .the words just won’t come. Probably no writer anywhere can say honestly that this hasn’t happened to her at least once. Let’s face it---when there’s nothing to say, there’s just nothing to say!

When I was busy raising children, taking care of elderly parents, and earning a living in the classroom, I never lacked for ideas, only the time to write them down and develop them. Retired now, with a cozy empty nest, I have no excuse.

So where do the ideas come from? Every writer has her unique source. I write vintage pieces, so having a master’s in history and a lifelong fascination with the days of the Great Depression and World War II doesn’t hurt. I spend a lot of time doing research to make sure the facts fit and some horrible anachronism doesn’t destroy the characters’ credibility.

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Words of old songs, snatches of dialogue, faded pictures, a stop on a historic tour. . .all these things have triggered ideas for short stories and novels. Keeping a notebook at hand to jot down ideas is an old but totally relevant suggestion.

I often blog about recent news article and throw in a little history just for background. Memories. . .at my age, they crowd in, and sometimes they spark a story. Thirty-odd years of genealogical research have turned up some interesting tidbits, too:

• Who knew the truth of the wild ride down the old wagon road and the blood-stained floors left behind? • What made a man, with thirteen children of his own, fetch his wife’s two orphaned sisters from the place they were living and bring them home?

• Was the handsome young man in the high collar and puff tie just a picture in an old album or a lost love?

• They had five daughters and wanted a son---but why did they keep moving to hide his identity?

• What did she leave behind in Alabama, only to lose more in Texas?

• Why was the young mother buried in an unmarked grave—unwept, unhonored, and unsung?

• What inner strength did the orphan boy possess that kept him going through ninety-six years, despite the harsh blows he endured?

• What felled this family so soon after the trip across Texas in a covered wagon, and who inscribed the hand-hewn tombstones that mark their final resting places?

• The bordellos operated in plain sight, so why, three generations later, do people refuse to acknowledge the women who worked there?

• What spurred a man to withdraw from a group of local vigilantes, sell his land, and move his family out of the state?

• Is it a coincidence that the small grave fell in the very summer that hospital records went missing?

These and so many other questions may forever remain unanswered in real life. In stories, however, they are destined to take on a new life all their own. I’ll never stop searching for the truth, but while I’m at it, I’ll keep writing about what I’d like for the truth to be.

Visit Judy at her website and blog to learn more about her numerous short story series. In addition, she's looking forward to her novel set in the thirties, Where is Papa's Shining Star? from The Wild Rose Press.


Katie Reus said...

Great interview! It's always fascinating to hear where authors get their ideas. I find a lot of inspiration through music :)

Terry Odell said...

Music does it for me too, Katie. I never got hooked in history class. Now, maybe if they'd have assigned historical fiction instead of those dry textbooks ... :-)

nlindabrit said...

I am always interested in where other writers get their ideas from.

With me, they range from a whole plot suggesting itself to me, to mere fragments of an idea, triggered by some random image, song or phrase.

I save every idea, no matter how small, as they often come in useful and can be worked on to craft a fully fledged plot.

Mary Ricksen said...

I like to sit in my garden and listen to the water from the pool fountains. It gives me peace and then the words come.
When I get an idea, I make a note and sit there thinking.
The water sound is so soothing.

Debra St. John said...

Hi Judy and Terry. Thanks for the interview. Music does it for me when I'm stuck. As I'm listening a line or two usually jumps out at me, and then I'm off and running. Many of my stories have snippets of "song ideas" in them. My free is based on one my favorite Christmas songs.

K9friend said...

I enjoyed the interview. I, too like reading and writing pieces from the past and loved your "what does it mean" teasers.

Judy said...

Thanks to all who dropped by today. I enjoyed hearing about where you get your ideas and inspiration!