First off, I’m sorry that I haven’t written a post in a while. A lot has happened…. A pandemic, racial unrest, an uncertain economy, and a new election. Through all of it, I’ve still been writing, kicking out a book every 3 to 4 months. My wife, Kim, lost her job after COVID hit and is now doing the marketing for my books.
Even though it’s approaching the middle of November, I kind of feel like it’s the beginning of a new year. And, I, for one, would like to do better, to become more connected to my followers, and utilize the tools that are at my disposal.
So, I will be posting regularly now… once a month. Which makes this first post is a declaration of sorts. Please feel free to hold me accountable.-)
This month’s topic: INSPIRATION
First of all, I’d like to share a problem I have…. insomnia. I have a hard time sleeping sometimes. I’m up reading (listening, actually, to audiobooks) late into the night. And then I’m up at 2 am. My mind is reeling with ideas, stresses from the day, or… just reeling. I do look at this as a curse sometimes, but other times, it’s in these sleepless moments that I get inspired.
I recently saw a Netflix mini-series, Queen’s Gambit (based on a novel by Walter Tevis). The protagonist, Beth Harmon, lives in an orphanage after she loses her parents. During her time there, she discovers chess. At night, unable to sleep, she’d lie in bed and stare out at the ceiling, imagining over-sized chess pieces moving in various scenarios. Her passion and curiosity about the game became so much of her life that it became a part of her.
I could relate to this. Some of my books come more easily to me than others. With some (Ship Wrecked: Stranded on an Alien World and The Simpleton), I got clear messages. I’m a visual person, I see the story play out in front of me like a movie. And when the message begins to fade away, I grab my iPhone and feverishly begin to make notes.
I also get inspired when I’m immersed in water…. My jacuzzi or bathtub. I recently got a giant clawfoot bathtub, and when the blizzards start here in Colorado, my outdoor jacuzzi is retired for a couple of months. I find this practice especially helpful when I’m experiencing writer’s block.
My wife, Kim, helps with inspired ideas, as well. I love the back and forth of bouncing ideas with friends and family. They may come up with something that isn’t quite right, but that leads me down a way of thinking that can result in pure gold.
Being a visual person, it is very important for me to get out of town. I spend a lot of time at home, here in Colorado. This is especially true, since the pandemic. So, recently, we take road trips. Even after living in the state for over 10 years, there are many little out-of-the-way places we haven’t discovered. The last place we visited was Manitou Springs, Colorado, near Colorado Springs. The town’s 19th-century Victorian frame houses and businesses against the mountain setting was unexpectedly interesting.
Movies are a source of inspiration for me, as well. Sometimes it’s the photography or a certain villain who is strangely likeable or it’s a situation that arises that is completely different than anything I’ve seen. It could also be a reaction or a setting or the way a character carries himself. It takes me being engaged for it to happen. If I’m paying attention and open, I’ll find it.
I have 3 dogs, and they provide me a certain kind of inspiration, as well. Rika is 16, a Chow/German Shepherd mix, and Lilly (2) & Sammi (6), Golden Retrievers. Don’t tell the others, but Sammi is my dog. She’s super-mellow and incredibly sweet. She offers little expression on a normal basis, but when we take her to our favorite dog park, she lights up. Sammi especially loves climbing the up-and-down bridge. Her expression and energy level visibly change. It creates a shift in me, too. Sammi is the inspiration for a book I’m working on now, tentatively called Cob.
Inspiration can come in different ways for me, from in-your-face to subtle. My challenge is to stay open and let it happen. I feel incredibly blessed to make a living as a writer. I acknowledge the responsibility that comes with it… to not go on autopilot and crank out formulaic stories. I am grateful for my fans, and I owe it to them to pass on the best I have to offer.
Till next time… Mark Wayne McGinnis