What Inspires You?

FamilyI had planned on spending today’s post talking about contract terms. I recently signed a contract and thought it might be nice to go over some of the terminology that writers might find confusing. But earlier this week my parents-in-law were visiting, so I couldn’t write ahead of schedule, and the day I set actually set aside for blog-writing was spent visiting my niece. She stopped here on her way across the country. She just graduated from specialized training in the US Navy and has a three week leave before her next assignment begins, so she’s going home for a visit, and we were a pit stop along the way. I’m sorry, but visiting my niece/godchild takes precedent over defining contract terms, particularly when I haven’t seen her in a year and a half.

These visits got me thinking about the importance of family and its impact in my writing. The novels that I’m working on right now—the one under contract and the series I’m pitching to an agent—both have characters with strong family ties.

The contracted piece deals with two twins who have lost their parents and only have each other. Forget about the “twin bond,” these two have forged a relationship that’s thick and tight. If the adage is true that blood is thicker than water, remember—they’re the only blood each other has left.

For the series I’m working on, I relied more on my heritage. It deals with four
Italian-American sisters for whom family is everything even before tragedy strikes their lives. And when it all hits the fan, those bonds are there, not to be tested, but to bear each other up.

So it’s pretty clear to me that my own life relationships pretty clearly shape my fiction. That isn’t to say that if my sister makes me angry she’s going to end up being a shrew in my next book, or if my dad buys me a car he’s going to be written in as a handsome billionaire (hint, hint; wink, wink; nudge, nudge). But it does mean that things in my life that touch me are reflected in the things that I write.

What about the things that are important to you? What things touch you, and do they make it into your writing in some manner? Tell us about your writing in the comments.

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Writer. Editor. Wife. Mom. Daughter. Sister. Friend. Dog owner. Award-winning author and recipe creator. Conservative Catholic with an avid interest in the supernatural. Think all that doesn't go together? Then you have to get to know me better.

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18 Comments

  1. My mother keeps reappearing in my novels. It’s no coincidence that I didn’t publish my first novel until after her death. Whenever I think I’ve written all I can about her, she appears in yet another one of my “mother” characters. She was a complex simple woman who had the tallest presence in my life yet she never made it quite to 5 feet tall. There’s a mystery from her teenage years and anyone who would have known her then has since passed away. My imagination constantly rewrites the mystery.

  2. Family is the most important thing and sometimes I do see small parts of them in the characters I write but only the good parts. They definitely are the reason for blogging Crazy Conversations. I can’t wait to share your article on contract terms.

  3. Cumburelle (1941)

    Ingredients
    12 eggs
    3 – 4 oranges (rind and juice)
    2 cups sugar
    1 cup oil
    1 cup milk
    8 tsp. baking powder
    5-8 cups flour (enough to make a soft dough)

    Directions
    Beat eggs well; add milk, oil, sugar, orange rind and juice; mix well. Add flour and mix by hand until it forms soft dough. Knead on floured surface to finish. Cut off in pieces about 2 inches. Roll into log shape about 1/2 inch thick. Form a knot or “S” shape. Put on floured baking sheet, bake 375 for 15-20 minutes.

    Cool and glaze

    Glaze

    Ingredients
    2 cups powdered sugar
    1-2 tsp. milk
    1 tsp. vanilla

    Directions
    Mix powdered sugar and milk until glaze coats back of spoon but isn’t too runny. Add vanilla, mix well. Dip cookies in glaze and place on cookie sheet. Let glaze harden.

  4. I am very fortunate to have my family so close to me. This past weekend, I was blessed to spend the morning with my 95 year young grandmother making a Palm Sunday traditional cookie, “Cumburella” (an orange flavor glaze frosted cookie). We had a great time, laughing, baking and telling stories from her youth and mine. These family memories and our stories are present in my writing as well. My family is extremely important to me and their influence is present in all that i write and do. I am glad you were able to spend time with your niece, that is a memory you will treasure for a lifetime.

    • I’m not sure which is more special–spending time with the older generation or the younger. There’s magic in both, I think. I learn from both the youth in my family and the wise elders. I envy you your time with your grandmother, but I wouldn’t trade my time with my niece. I think we both had great weekends full of wonderful memories to treasure and build upon. And I wouldn’t mind if you shared that orange cookie recipe!

  5. My mother, Dad and brother are ll gone, and that often makes me lonely. But my daughter and grandchildren help make up for it. My brother was the wild one, and probably has influenced my writing more than anyone else, though my Dad told his stories with great humor and gusto. To me family comes first, writing second with so many good friends wedvged tightly into the list. I couldn’t write without them..

    • If we carry our loved ones with us, they never truly leave us. And if you use them to inspire your writing, well, then they get to touch the world. Thanks for sharing them with us, Velda.

  6. Absolutely, Staci. Everything in my life, sooner or later, ends up held up to my writer’s light.

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