Ernest Hemingway said, “I learned never to empty the well of my writing, but always to stop when there was still something there in the deep part of the well, and let it refill at night from the springs that fed it.” This made me think. Where do I, where do you go to fill the well of your creativity?
I know that may not be an easy question. For me it started with research, but family was always an integral part of it. Joy, love, the core of my spirit is nourished by my family. And while I have not spoken of it on this blog before, elements of my characters in The Call are deliberatively, if only in part, modeled on family members. The Call is largely historical fiction, and though mixed with forklore, a significant part of my motivation for writing it was capturing an awareness of their own history for my children and grandchildren. Therefore I chose personality traits of my favorite uncle, my mother, and my grandchildren and wove them into the characters. No one character is all anyone and all have fictional parts, but my family did inspire many of them.
Yet though they helped shape some of the characteristics of my protagonists they were not the originating “spark” for the book.
So what got me from thinking about ‘someday’ writing a book about ‘something’ to actually conceptualizing and writing The Call. It started with curiosity, I think, enhanced by what I heard someone describe as a “what if” statement. First I got intrigued by a quirky bit of history about a medieval Queen, who actually served in her own right as King – “Lex Polonia.” Then when she died with her child 15 years later the what ifs appeared…what if the child didn’t really die….and this led to what if the Duke who married her killed her to remove her as a potential rival, but her followers rescued the child and put her in hiding. Since then there have been many more what ifs, one leading to another.
So how do I fill the well…I soak up the love of family, I sing (did I tell you I sing?) for the joy and stress reduction it brings me, and I let my imagination soar to a thousand possibilities, to untold what ifs…. and last but not least, for me, I people watch. I find people unendingly entertaining. We are fascinating, ridiculous, annoying, wonderful, evil, malicious, caring, tender beings….including me.
So how do you ignite the spark of your imagination? How do you fill the well deep enough to let you dive unabashedly to the depths and then shoot to the surface brimming with ideas?