Top Ten Things That Inspire My Writing: Part I

I thought I’d lend everyone an insight into what inspires me to write in general. Then maybe you can tell me what inspires you to write too!

1. My students. They inspire me every moment of my working day. I started to write Young Adult fiction because of them. I always mention one student in particular, Melinda, who would come in with a book to read every day, and every book would have some dark, gothic cover with a gothic-looking girl on the front dressed in some black prom dress with eyeliner all over her face. I don’t now why, but I’ve always been drawn to what Melinda would read, and I’d always ask her what book she is currently working on. It’s because of her and my other students begging to read my writing that I sat down and started to create LUMINOSITY.

2. My friends and family. I’ve always been writing, be it short stories or poetry or letters to my bestie, Gina. In fact, she just sent me a picture the other day of a letter I sent to her in the mail, and I had scribbled all over it in the most obnoxiously-poor grammar you have ever seen. Oh God, it was awful. But, in some way, my family and friends have always encouraged me to do more. It wasn’t until I moved to Baltimore that I started to bond with a current friend, Stephanie Dray, who is also an author. She always pushed me along and encouraged me to stop writing as a hobby and start writing seriously. I had the amazing opportunity to intern for her during grad school, and because I was an intern, I got to read and give feedback on her historical novel, Lily of the Nile. Now, I already knew what an amazing writer Stephanie was because of the worlds and stories that she had created in other pieces of her work, but Lily of the Nile was the first historical book of hers that I read through, and I was simply awe-struck. She has a style of word craft and storytelling that is unmatched by others, and trust me — I read a LOT of historical fiction. Even in writing LUMINOSITY, I was influenced, in part, by the work of Stephanie Dray. So, as you can see, my friends and family have a huge impact on my writing.

3. Music. Music moves me. I am one of those people who will hear a song and cry because it’s so moving. I’ll be in the middle of belting out a tune, and my voice will cut out because I’m so suddenly overcome with emotion. Sometimes certain lyrics inspire me to create a story around them, and sometimes a whole album will inspire me to write. What immediately comes to mind is My Chemical Romance’s last album, Danger Days: The True Story of the Fabulous Killjoys. If you are into dystopian, apocalyptic anything, this album is for you. And make sure you watch the music videos while you are at it! I also know a lot of other authors do this, but I like to create “soundtracks” for my writing that I will listen to on loop until I am done writing for that day. I love when authors include their “soundtracks” in their books because it lends so much insight into their process.

4. Other Authors/Stories. I think this is a gimme, really, and doesn’t have to be said. All of us are inspired by those who have written before us. Not a single author out there hasn’t been inspired by an author that they’ve personally taken interest in. Some of my favorite authors are George R.R. Martin, the Bronte Sisters, and Ernest Hemingway. I have a whole list that would probably go on forever, but that’s just a taste of the authors that I love.

5. Art. I am a very creative person. I love to paint, I love to take photographs, I love to create — period. Sometimes, I don’t think people understand that writing is only the tip of the iceberg for me. My need for craft goes much deeper than literature. One year, at a high school where I used to teach, the art department held an art show, where anyone could go and see the student art and then purchase what they like. It was great because the students’ artwork now had a purpose greater than a grade, and I got to see the creativity of students that I wouldn’t have ever seen before. There was a student in particular who had a style that I gravitated to. All of her art was so deep and mysterious, I was just taken away with it. I ended up buying one of her paintings which shows a girl’s face on one half, and is covered with newspaper clippings on the other half. The whole painting is spattered with black writing ink, and in the corner are the words “It has a name.” Sadly, she didn’t put her name on the painting, and I can’t remember it…but I wish I did because I’d probably buy all of her artwork! But anyway, my office consists of my writing space, my bunny rabbit, the “It has a name” painting on the wall, my book cover poster hanging by my desk, bookshelves, and then my painting space where I sometimes feel inspire to take a brush to canvas. It’s quite a mess, but I think that’s typical of artists. Ha.

Stay tuned for part two of my “Top Ten Things That Inspire My Writing” blog post! But in the meantime, why don’t you tell me your top five inspirations for writing. Leave a comment below!

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