Long before I ever put (metaphorical) pen to paper, I had characters roaming in my mind, telling me their stories and looking for an outlet. I wanted to share positive, uplifting stories that would brighten someone’s day and make them feel hopeful, but I didn’t know if anybody would want to read my words or if the characters in my mind would resonate with other people. So when I first started writing, I posted the beginning of a story for free on the internet. The e-mails I received in response were the reason I kept writing that first story and the loyalty of my readers is the reason I keep writing now.
I’ve read an article or three over the years saying the best way to be happy and successful in your career is to choose a job you truly enjoy. Well, writing is that job for me. I love every aspect of it – the creativity, the escape into other people and other worlds, and the ability to reach, touch, and entertain readers. While I’m not able to write full time (at least until my lottery luck changes), I am fortunate enough to share my work and publish my books. As long as people keep wanting to read about my characters, I’ll make sure to find the time to keep writing them.
Speaking of those characters, they’re inspired by a lot things - a story shared by a friend, an incident I experience, and often, a song playing on the radio. Once inspiration strikes, I live with the characters in my head, think about who they are, what drives them, and what they want. I find that I need to absorb the characters and really get to know them before I can write their stories. Some of those characters take more time than others.
For example, Ben Forman (from Just What the Truth Is) spent a lot of time rattling around in my head. He was inspired by an article I read about a behind-the-scenes powerful political operative who came out later in life. I can’t even count the number of conversations I’ve had where people become almost rabidly angry about a closeted (or maybe a not overtly out) public figure. And yet, is it fair to take what is a personal decision, likely borne of many layered, painful reasons, and trivialize it into a stark, black and white, “I’d never be that weak” judgment?
When I read about that political figure, heard his reasons for spending so many years hiding an important aspect of himself and then listened to what finally inspired him to come out, I didn’t feel like I was learning about a coward. I felt like I was learning about a person - faults, fears, and all. And what better inspiration is there for a writer than sharing a character so complex as to be loved and hated, and yet so simple as to be real? It’s a lofty goal, but it’s my inspiration for writing.