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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

What Inspires You? LWC Writers Share Their Top Five

This winter, LWC will celebrate five years of LWC. We are starting the celebration a little early by doing a weekly top-five series. Each Wednesday LWC members will post their top-five answers to a specific question. This is week two and LWC writers were asked:

What inspires you to write?

Cece Dockins:

1. My Grandmother is a huge inspiration to me. She had a bunch of kids - I think ten, too many to count. For many years she traveled picking fruit, cotton, or helping on farms. The family struggled, but they always made the best out of life. She was the person that fed me a huge amount of romance novels as a child, and she wrote the most amazing Christian poetry. She was the only person in my family interested in reading and writing, and I wanted to be just like her. When I think about Granny, I think about golden wheat, a sing-song voice, imagination, rain-melted parasols, and a childhood happiness that I will never be able to recapture.
2. Great Fiction. Books and poetry that make my arteries hum and my heart quiver. As a beginning writer great fiction should make me depressed, instead it reinvents my soul. And I go on to write another day.
3. The LWC. To be surrounded by such talented people is a blessing. In many ways, we are a mix-matched-hodge-podge family; LWC members are different ages from different locales with different life experiences. We rejoice when a member succeeds, and we feel the pain when one of us fails. The LWC is the penultimate support group. I always leave the meetings feeling refreshed and ready to tackle a revision or new story I've procrastinated on. And with inspiration there is learning.
4. Tennessee. Tennesseans are not known to be a literary bunch - thank television and stereotypes for that. I've found that no writer has tapped into the great wealth Tennessee has to offer. The woods, the valleys, the struggles of its peoples are mine because it is my home and my history. I'll never move. This place is the foundation for all of my words. Besides I can't get rid of the darn accent.
5. Music and Art. Surrealism is a trepanning of the brain. It's the type of art that burrows itself deep into the creative recesses of my mind. As for music, I crave substance not booty shaking.

Ron Billmyer:

1. Storm flying-Got to fly weather reconnaissance for the AF for 10 years-although getting thrown around like a ping pong ball in a 60 to 70 ton aircraft in a thunderstorm or hurricane is not necessarily fun while you are going through it, it is exhilarating when you land safely after the mission.
2. I liked going to the exotic places where our forward operating locations were. Antigua, Hawaii, Bermuda, etc. (rough tours of duty, but somebody had to do it).
3. Another place that inspired me was the C-130 Hercules. A wonderful life-saving aircraft that was a rugged, hard-working bird that brought you home in spite of mistakes made by the aircrew or the vindictiveness of the storm.
4. Running with the aircrew after the mission was over. It was often rough and tumble, but more fun than you were allowed to have.
5. I was inspired by the dedication and bravery of all the guys I served with in the AF.

Jennifer Ballard:

I would love to say it's something specific and profound, or that I'm inspired by deadlines, paychecks and my adoring fans. My inspirations are 1) my family, 2) my writer friends/mentors/critique buddies, 3) my characters, 4) reading books that I love and 5) reading books that I DON'T love.

Chris Gates:

1. Comic books and pulp fiction that I read as a kid, it got me interested in writing.
2. I love a good story.
3. Tom Robbins
4. As a kid I'd write as a way to elicit shock from whoever was going to read my writings. It became addictive, I still dig that response.
5. I try to entertain myself.

Ross Martin:

1. I like to try to see my mind's contents on paper.
2. A chance to win a Pulitzer oops! Oscar? A prize of some kind.
3. To publish a book no matter if I have to self publish just to say hey I have done it, even if it is only self pleasing.
4. To be able to pour out my soul on paper maybe saying some things I might not own up to in person, but using my characters to say them.
5. Just seeing things on a walk through the woods, or in a sunset, or in a picture, or the memories of a dream or nightmare and writing this down.

Jenn Wiseman:

1. The soundtrack to Robin Hood inspired a book about a girl who was an excellent marksman.
2. A picture of a selkie inspired my short story "The Selkie's Choice."
3. A novel about shape-shifters was the inspiration for my finished novel.
4. A werewolf in a sitcom helped me to write a flash fiction called "Affliction of the Moon."
5. A witch's Halloween costume inspired my short story, "A Change of Heart" based on a witch who "accidently" changes her cheating husband into a cat.

Frankie Ren:

1. I had a student teacher in grade school who was one of my earliest inspirations to write. When she returned a writing assignment, she said please read my comment. She gave me a A+ in spite of me not fully following the assignment. I was to write a story about a picture of a dove. I wrote a poem. She wrote on my paper "You should pursue this." I have written many poems since then.
2. The inspiration for the novel I am working on came from coming home on 840 from Murfreesboro and seeing an abandoned car along the side of the road.
3. My kittens are another inspiration. They have such expression in their mews and actions.
4. My family has inspired one story.
5a. Of course the voices in my head are the driving force of my writing.
5b. The LWC has made the pursuit of my writing fun and hopefully better.

Karen Phillips

1. Emotional love, confusion, or pain—Yep, any of these states of mind lead me straight to my notebook just to figure out what is going on in my head.
2. Spiritual Connection—Writing my prayers helps me twice, once when I write them and then again when I read them. I haven’t been creatively writing for several years; that was the main reason that I started attending LWC meetings. But when I was writing, the things that inspired me were:
3. Reading self-help, fiction, or even my own journals—Gee whiz, there’s a ton of things that come from those to base a story on, fiction or non.
4. Going to the Court House to look at Court Case Files—I had this crazy little part-time job when I first moved here of reporting malpractice claims for a legal publication in Florida. I traveled to the different counties in Middle TN and researched their case files. Oh my gosh!
5. Conversation and caffeine—there’s nothing like being able to talk with a good friend when we are both caffeined-up. It’s better than B-12 shots.

Judy Lee Hooper:

What inspires me to write you ask
I set my mind upon this task

Is it a thought, or a word
An act, a sight, or a song
Either one upon occasion
May inspires me, right or wrong

I'm no Longfellow, no Tennyson
No Shakespeare nor Christy
I'm just me, my thought all a tither
Makes my eyes get all misty

Really, though, what are the most
Inspiring things that make me write
I'll try to answer with all my might
Naming all the things that make me write.

A beautiful view, be it ocean or sky
Be it majestic mountain ranges or humble pie
Be it inspiring acts or accomplishments of others
Or be it something that makes me try

I really can't say which it is that sets my pen soaring
That makes the words ebb and flow
I really wish I knew so I could recreate that feeling
That sets me to writing and and fulfills my soul.

Mary Ann Weakley:

1. An English class assignment in high school resulted in a good grade and response from the teacher on my story; it was taken from a real life happening, though I added a mysterious ending. The good grade and complement surprised me, but made me think---maybe I can write.
2. The B & N writing night gave me the opportunity to test my writing. A group of strangers critiqued the first story I ever wrote. It was terrible, but they complemented me on my description and I was off and running.
3. Encouragement from friends has kept me at my writing.
4. Basically, positive feedback does wonders to inspire me.

Karen Aldridge:

1. Words inspire me. The sounds they make when you lay them out in a story and maneuver them perfectly in to place is exciting and makes me want to keep creating more word combinations.
2. Being told I can't do something. For example, if someone tells me,"You could never make a living writing," I'll bust my butt making sure I do some day.
3. My fifth-grade teacher (whose name I can't remember, but if I could, I'd call her out right here - she was at Dresden Elementary in Atlanta, GA in the early 80s - yeah, I'm talking about you if you're reading, you witch) for being completely unsupportive of my writing abilities by accusing me of cheating on writing assignments. She still managed to make an impact on me - I realized if she thought I was cheating, I must be pretty good.
4. Spending time away from the craziness of life might be my biggest inspiration. A week on the river in West Virginia, a week on a secluded beach, a week in a quiet mountain cabin recharges me in amazing ways, and I always discover things or people that inspire new story ideas.
5. LWC friends because they understand why I put myself through the insanity that is the writer's life - whether we dedicate a little of our time or all of our time to our writing endeavors, writing is a tricky little journey that only other writers can fully understand. Three years ago when I joined, I was just writing for fun - now I'm writing to succeed. Thanks LWC!

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