On writing: Inspiration from Reading

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Stephen King’s book On Writing emphasizes the importance of reading. When I’m really in the zone writing, inspiration comes at me from everywhere. This week it came from Mary Relindes Ellis’s novel, The Turtle Warrior.

“A .30-’ 06 long-nosed rifle bullet without a full metal jacket enters the body neatly and almost pierces it with the fineness of a sewing needle. But when it exits the body, it does so with such force that it blows open a crater, splintering the spine and exposing spilled and ruptured intestines. The fresh smell of blood and bowel can make whatever you’ve eaten crawl up into your throat instantly. It is even worse when the victim has caught the bullet in the face and head. Then he is almost unrecognizable.”

— The Turtle Warrior by Mary Relindes Ellis

I doubt my work-in-progress will have explicit war scenes. Still, war impacts my characters’ lives in ways that even they often don’t understand.

I think of Mary’s description of a rifle bullet as a metaphor for how painful experiences can enter us almost imperceptibly, yet do insurmountable damage. Like embedded shrapnel, pieces fester to the surface as time passes.

What causes some of us to buckle with the pain? How did people who went through the Great Depression, followed by WWII, triumph with a positive world view and an undeniable love of life?

That’s what I hope to capture in my next Historical Novel. Working title, May His Tribe Increase.

Who or what inspires you this week?

Do you recognize the title, May His Tribe Increase, as a line from the poem, “Abou Ben Adhem?” I do love poetry. I thank my 7th grade English teacher who made us memorize a poem every week.

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