Friday, August 14, 2009

Inspiration, Imagination, and Guts

Friday, August 14, 2009
As you’re reading this, I am on a plane, flying home for a visit. Home being where I was born and mostly raised. Home being where my mom, brother and a few of my sisters and their children live. Or… I am having lunch with my mom and brother. Or ... I’m meeting with a dear high school friend. Or… I’m eating pizza and watching a movie with my sister BJ and her girls. Depends on what time of the day you read this. At any rate, if I don’t respond to your comments as much as I normally do it’s because I’m engaged with family. Or… can’t get Internet access.

On to my topic of the day… Inspiration, Imagination, and Guts

Presently, I’m working hard on a story that will be released by HQN (Harlequin) in the fall of 2010. It’s a romantic adventure entitled: INTO THE WILD. I think of it as a cross between Romancing the Stone and Indiana Jones. I adore the characters and concept and I’m having a blast spinning this tale.

Meanwhile, in the back of my brain, another story, indeed an entire new series of tales, is buzzing. That buzz grows louder by the day. I’ve started a file. I jot down every thought, every notion. Character names. Places. Character quirks. Back story. Plot points. I keep adding to this file. The story, or rather, the premise keeps changing. No. Not changing. Evolving. The more it evolves, the more clear the project becomes. The greater my excitement. I’ve even written a chapter and a half. I love it, but…

At this point, I’m not even sure of the genre. Elements include: romance, mystery, paranormal, urban fantasy, and steampunk. Yesterday, I had a moment of doubt. Is my premise to outrageous? Am I dooming this project by not targeting a clear cut sub-genre?

But then I paused and considered.

I feel inspired. Incredibly, wonderfully inspired! Why not give my imagination free reign? I can always pull back. Later. After I fully understand what I’m dealing with. My gut says if I continue to let my imagination soar, if I allow the concept to evolve, at some point everything will click and I’ll have, as SIS Barb calls it, an AHA moment.

The sub-genre will become clear.

The story arc for the series will become clear.

Giving myself permission to develop this tale, no matter how outrageous, is extremely empowering. It even fuels my enthusiasm for my current WIP, Into the Wild. Inspiration and imagination are magic. But it takes guts to trust the magic. Courage to risk rejection.

I wonder how Jules Verne felt when he outlined Journey to the Center of the Earth? How J.K. Rowling felt when she created the Harry Potter series? Not that I’d ever compare myself to these amazing writers, but what if they’d harnessed their imaginations?

What about you? Is there a project you’re dying to attempt, but fear is too out there? Too unproven? Too unpopular? Do you follow trends or follow your heart? Without going into specifics (Protect the work!), I’d love it if you’d share at least one project (and it doesn’t have to be a writing project) that you hope to tackle someday.

SIS Beth


Sisters-in-Sync said...

Good morning and safe travels to you Beth.

I am thrilled to say that I am now attempting just that. I've had a couple of AHA moments and am more inspired than I think I've ever been.

RE: Following trends or following my heart. I have to say that I'm right down the middle on that one. (as boring as that may sound).

See you soon,
SIS Barb

Julia Templeton said...

I have a file full of notes on a story that's been knocking at the door for years. The story is more fantasy than anything else I've written to date, but I'm really excited about it. I look forward to the challenge...once my current deadline book is handed in.

Richard said...

Hi, Beth -- Happy Travels!

First, my thoughts on "genre:" As SO sadly in most arts, classification is often overused and (as you alluded to) can carry the "danger" of artists curbing their ideas in an attempt to pigeonhole themSELVES for the sake of "success" (can you tell I'm not a big fan of the PMRC?;-)). But, c'est la guerre -- it is what it is. That being said, here's my opinion about YOUR boggle: You HAVE a great degree of success, so can one "off-the-wall" writing that MAY be ill-received truly affect your standing(and, btw, can not ANY of your books be ill-received for whatever reason at whatever time? I have a feeling that's ALWAYS an underlying worry after the press starts rolling)? Doubt it -- "Legend" didn't really kill Tom Cruise's career;)!

Second, to me (and, from what I gather from what you say here, to you) the FLOW is the thing. "Genre" be damned if there just doesn't happen to be one in existence yet that it fits in. Does it Flow? Is it HONEST? In other words, Gandalf runs into a 20-foot Balrog in the guts of a mountain and they battle to the "death" -- OK. During one of the Great Battles, Mordor unleashes its 20 squadrons of F-15's? NOT so OK! In other words, as long as your story FLOWS, interweaving "genres" as it moves ALONG, I can't see a problem; string me along for 200 pages with an exciting Realistic Romantic Sherlocky Period Adventure Mystery with a protagonist who is somewhat prescient, and then throw in an antagonist who is half man, half wildebeest who can shapeshift and pass through walls -- I might not like you anymore;)!

Boiled down -- LIFE is not any SINGLE genre --- why should one of your FICTIONAL BOOKS be?

Have fun!!

B.J. said...

Hi Beth, I hope to start writing my book soon, but when I come up with an idea and some research I realise it has already been done many times. Any suggestions?

Tori Lennox said...

First, your new book sounds totally fab!!!

On to the inspiration topic. As you know I've got a steampunk idea percolating, too. And knowing me, it's bound to shift into other genres along the way. I seem to be incapable of sticking with one genre.

But while watching Special Ops Mission on the Military Channel last night, I felt inspired to make notes on a Navy SEAL adventure idea I had awhile back. I guess my mind is always percolating with something. :)

Sisters-in-Sync said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Sisters-in-Sync said...

Hi Beth,

I think you're absolutely right about Jules Verne and JK Rowling. What if they HAD harnessed their imaginations? I think you should write what you feel and then you can look at it and decide whether or not it works.
I'm so glad you're inspired!

SIS Bren

Olga said...

Beth, congrats on the inspiration! I think you should let it guide it, and the subgenre will work itself out in the end! And I totally agree - your new book sounds fabulous!

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