This month’s topic is on finding inspiration as a writer, a topic we are leaving open to the widest interpretation. Some of us will write about the inspiration to write a particular story or character. Others will write about finding the inspiration to create fictional characters and worlds despite the craziness of life and its many obligations.
There are three stories in progress in my crazy world. Each of them is a little different, in some way or another, from what I’ve written thus far. Two of them are very different. One is a historical romance set during the Harlem Renaissance. The other is a romantic thriller.
I’d love to chat about each of those stories and why I’m so excited about them. Yet, I’m not quite ready to share my babies with the world. (Cue photos of Beyonce carrying around Baby Blue, her chubby little legs the only thing showing as she is shrouded in a baby blanket of mystery.) So, instead, I’m talking about what inspires one of the three themes that often occur in my stories.
Issues of Identity
Having been raised in a world where the focus was on who and what I should be, rather than what I wanted to be or do, I am no stranger to women are well into adulthood when they discover that they have no clue what they really want to do with their lives. Sometimes, they aren’t even quite sure who they really are.
So much of our self-image is based upon the narratives we develop about ourselves when we are young. Much of this is based on feedback from others. A parent who calls us “the smart one” or “the pretty one.” A sibling who teases us mercilessly about some physical flaw. Cruel classmates teasing us about another. A teacher who says we’ll never be a writer, or an actor or filmmaker. Or worse, childhood abandonment, physical and/or sexual abuse.
Over time we start to absorb those messages, even if, at first, we reject them. Those narratives–someone else’s stories about who we are and what we should be–mold and shape our identity. One’s true identity can easily become lost.
How we react to such experiences is a choice we each must make. We can use them to fuel our success and determination to be better people. Or we can allow those experiences to fuel a continued cycle misery and pain. While the choice seems quite easy, we don’t always make the right one. Nor do we always realize that we’ve consciously made a choice.
I’m fascinated by the experiences, big and small, that contribute to the formation of our character, our habits, ourselves. And I’m inspired by women who rise above negative experiences to become something more than they ever imagined. Women like the late Maya Angelou, Tina Turner, Oprah Winfrey and Malala Yousafzai overcame incredible adversity and someone else’s narrative about who they should be in order to determine who they are and how they would live their lives.
Yet, I’ve met many women still stumbling along that road, trying to find their true selves and the love and happiness that results when they finally do. I want to tell them that finding happiness is a choice. Their choice. Through my characters, who struggle to redefine themselves or come to terms with who they truly are on the way to their happily ever after, I do.
Photo courtesy of Alexandria Lentz.