After spending the weekend at a local writers’ conference and being inspired by all the great speakers and conference leaders, I am thinking more about what inspired me to write in the first place. In 2005 when I started this journey, I was “green as a gourd” about what it took to become a published author. I was fairly good at putting words on paper in a cohesive sentence and paragraph, but that’s where my aptitude ended. I had no idea about the hard work involved in writing, critiquing, editing, and publishing a story or book. Approaching an agent or editor with a book proposal was a very scary proposition. Every conference I’ve attended has increased my knowledge and confidence, but it is still a daunting task. Even the world of self-publishing is fraught with difficult decisions. Who can you trust to transform your manuscript “baby” into an appealing book that people will want to read?
Authors who wrote and published books years before my time also faced many challenges. The Diary of Anne Frank was rejected 15 times before it was published. Author, Margaret Mitchell, received 38 “no thank you letters” before someone took a chance on Gone with the Wind. Beatrix Potter’s story The Tale of Peter Rabbit first debuted as a self-published work since no traditional children’s book editors were interested.
My love for the books of Laura Ingalls Wilder prompted me to read a book about her publishing journey for the Little House on the Prairie series. It surprised me to learn that her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, edited and rewrote large portions of her stories. The Little House books were written around a deliberate cohesive theme to encourage people during the years of the Great Depression. They promoted the theme of rugged individualism and survival in opposition to government dependency and Roosevelt’s New Deal. I have a personal connection to Laura’s second book, Farmer Boy, about her husband, Almanzo, who was born in my home town of Malone, New York. Life in that farming community hadn’t changed a lot by the time I came along. A few years back, I visited the Wilder’s restored house and barns so vividly described in that book.
Another of my writing inspirations was Eugenia Price, who authored numerous historical novels about the Old South. I fell in love with her writing when I first moved to Georgia. After her conversion to Christianity she had a new purpose in telling the stories of the strong faith of Georgia’s earliest settlers. Her first three books–The Beloved Invader, New Moon Rising, and Lighthouse–led me on a journey to St. Simon’s Island off the Georgia coast. Christ’s Church was the setting for her Georgia Trilogy and a beautiful, inspiring place to visit.
Writing an historical novel would be a dream of mine, but I think at this point in my life an unrealistic goal. For now, I am sticking with non-fiction. Charles and I are working hard on completing his life story—Chasing a Whirlwind—that will be a bookend to my memoir, Born Three Times.
Inspiration is defined as “the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.” I believe inspiration is a gift from God, and I am thankful for those writers who have gone before me and inspired me to use my gift to write. What inspires you and how are you using your creative gifts? Please post a comment and share it with me.