Thursday, October 1, 2015

What If

This week I’ve been thinking a lot about inspiration. It’s a common question that pops up in interviews, which I’ve been doing a lot of lately, and I just stare at it on the page for a while before writing up something that feels sort of like the truth.

Inspiration! It’s a thing!

Are word counts inspiring?
Okay, seriously. What keeps us all glued to our laptops, pattering away at the keys? Why do we write and rewrite, edit and re-edit? Are we all secretly control freaks, exerting our influence on our characters like little gods eagerly telling people what to do? Are we just obsessive? Maybe just overwhelmed with the need to create?

See, I have a lot of questions about this. Writing isn’t an easy job by any means. I’ve been working on a book for fifteen months now, which is actually not that long in terms of books that have taken up all of my time. I sat with Stay the Distance for a year, threw it in a drawer for three years, and then spent another year with it, because that is just the kind of crazy work process authors go through. I’ve written something only to tear it apart and rewrite it only to tear that apart and rewrite that.

Sometimes it’s crazy making. You’d have to have a really good reason to do this…right? I think, for me, it’s all about the what if. Everything starts with a what if. What if this happens, what if that happens. Ohmigod, what if this then happens? And then I run over to the laptop and start to patter away at a Word document so my idea doesn’t get lost in the jumble that is my brain.

The thing is, I have no idea where these thoughts come from. I’m just merrily wandering around the internet, stumble across a story about acquired savant syndrome, and I’ve opened that Word document and am typing before I can even stop to think. It’s just a flood. A flood of, in this instance, all of the amazing things that could happen if you had acquired savant syndrome. (I mean, it is pretty amazing. You just fall down, hit your head, and become a master pianist a week later.)

Then there’s the inspiration that keeps you going. I like imaging my characters doing their thing, just full on acting it out in my head, picturing their reactions and their dialogue like I’m a fly on the wall. A fly that can manipulate everything that they do. So I guess, deep down, it is a little like playing god.

So, what inspires us? Let me know in the comments!

Mara Dabrishus is an author and librarian at a small college in Northeast Ohio. Horse racing is her first great love, but for the past several years she's ridden dressage, learning how to spiral in, half halt, and perform the perfect figure eight. Her first novel, Stay the Distance, was released in March 2015. For more information, please visit

1 comment:

  1. Often a dream or daydream brings characters to life for me and then I find I'm writing away without having had an idea the day before!

    Horses and future dreams relating to horses often inspire me and lead to stories.