Here you will find everything to do with writing, whether it is my writing or what I'm learning from reading books on writing. Reading, vocabulary, and grammar are the tools of the trade. The very best people to learn from are the ones who are seasoned writers who teach writing. You would be wise to enlist them as your mentors, as I have.
Sometime ago I fell in love with Russian authors like Dostoyevsky, Turgenev, and Gorky and read several of their novels. There was a deep quality to them that I had not found in American authors. Perhaps it has something to do with the hardships that they endured daily (read Gorky's three book autobiography: My Childhood, My Apprenticeship, and My Universities) living in the oppression and poverty that is found in Russia, particularly in Dostoyevsky's time in the 1800's. Maybe this is what is needed, to feel the pain of hunger and longing for any quality of life, to get to the core of our hearts and souls and allow that ache to show in our writing. True pain, not from a toothache or a bad cold, but from too many nights going to bed cold and hungry.
Inspiration, that is what we are all looking for when we sit at our desk or computer to write a story. I remember reading somewhere that J.K. Rowling got her inspiration for the character of Harry Potter when she was on a train and a boy in a cape walked down the aisle towards her. It seems we just need a tidbit and the imagination steps in and says, "I've got this."
Personally, many of my characters have come out of my past from people I have known either through work or some other encounter. If the personality is strong enough to leave an impression on me, they just might end up in one of my stories. For a new collection of short stories that I'm writing I dug way back into my past. There was one or two incidents that stuck out for me with each of the characters and from there I developed a story. So, besides a character I need to have a little bit of information about them that in some way, whether negatively or positively, inspires me.
Since I've been meeting more people through the writing groups I've been involved with, I've heard many people talk about their story and putting it into a book. Memoir is very popular these days with many people telling their stories, including myself. But beyond that one book, why do people write? I read a collection of authors talking about why they write about themselves. Each had their own story with many of them sharing the same reasons. The majority said they wrote because they had to and they didn't know how to do anything else.
I will never forget the day my first book arrived in the mail. I was excited to open the box and see the book that I had spent so long, about a year, in writing even though the idea had come to me at least another year previous to actually writing it. It represented so much more than just a solid book with a little over 300 pages. It was who I was, who I have always wanted to be, who I believed for so many years was not good enough or smart enough. The person who wrote this book could write and had creative thoughts and ideas and could complete if not a tome at least a book worthy of bragging about as in "it is 300 pages." That takes quite a bit of time and effort and concentration and planning. And it isn't something everyone can do.
As my husband, Jim, said, "You know, my grandfather started his own business and he was successful but the building is gone where his store was and no one remembers it, except the few people who were around in that neighborhood at that time. But a book....that's around forever!" Yes, he was quite proud of my first book, as was I. And although he was a tremendous help in getting this book self-published, there would be no book if I hadn't written it.