A Drift of Quills – In the Beginning, Inspiration

This month our little group of writers are recalling how stories start. Where they come from. What inspired a particular tale. We are speaking about The Muses.

Speak, Memory –
Of the cunning hero
The wanderer, blown off course time and again
After he plundered Troy’s sacred heights.
Of all the cities he saw, the minds he grasped,
The suffering deep in his heart at sea
As he struggled to survive and bring his men home
But could not save them, hard as he tried –
The fools – destroyed by their own recklessness
When they ate the oxen of Hyperion the Sun,
And that god snuffed out their day of return
Of these things,
Speak, Immortal One,
And tell the tale once more in our time.

~ The Odyssey

Robin Lythgoe

Author of As the Crow Flies

Robin’s Website

As I near the day I push the “publish” button for the second book in The Mage’s Gift, this seems a good time to reflect on the motivation behind the story. I think it was years in the making, and I think I will say the same about all my books and stories. What does inspire me? What prompts me to set pen to paper (I really did start out that way), and then fingers to keyboard? I’m inclined to call it “magic.”

Patricia Reding

Author of Oathtaker

Patricia’s Website

Taking a short hiatus from writing my fantasy series (The Oathtaker Series) over the past few months, I’ve been working instead on a non-fantasy story entitled, So I Opened My Mouth and Screamed. It will be published in 2018.

This story is near and dear to my heart, as being aware of a real-life story with which this one shares features, I felt I had to write it. It opens when a young man breaks and enters into the home of a family and, armed with a knife, sexually assaults the youngest family member (a young woman just turned 16) and threatens her not to call for help. I don’t want to give away the details, but the young woman in question is/was not your typical 16-year old. Rather than being a victim to the demands of her unknown assailant, she did precisely what he demanded she not do . . .


Parker Broaddus

Author of  A Hero’s Curse & Nightrage Rising

Follow along on Amazon

I like the question “what inspired you?” To inspire is to motivate, to encourage, to incite. It is an action that is uniquely intimate through its connection with personal desire. It touches on motivations and vocations, capturing both the mind and the heart. To be inspired is a special thing, and to inspire others an almost otherworldly, yet, perhaps, a worthy goal. Depending on the end. Depending on what you inspire your neighbor toward.

I’ve written in the past about the origin of A Hero’s Curse and the images that prompted a tale. I wrote a short story called “Two Weeks is a Lifetime,” which was inspired by my own experience with loss when my Papa died. It’s interesting that what might have inspired me to write is not the same inspiration a reader takes away. They weren’t inspired by my experience. Rather, those readers were were inspired by a story of a distracted young boy and his interaction with the loss of his grandfather.

When I wrote “Streets of Laredo,” I did it after ruminating on the old cowboy ballad of the same name. I was inspired by a song, and desired to see it fleshed out in story. Others have told me that the story went on to inspire them to contemplate the brevity of life, and their own luck at being here.

I don’t think I ever started out with a grand idea of inspiring others to grapple with loss, (Two Weeks is a Lifetime), or life and luck, (Streets of Laredo), or loss and damaged family ties and courage (A Hero’s Curse). I always started with something much simpler than all of that. I started with my experience. Or a picture. Or a song.

But to do something well – to write well – to capture the imagination and some common experience, that inspires! It propels us! At the very least to turn the page, and hopefully, it can prompt us to do more than simple accept the world as it is, but to strive for what could be.

That is my hope. My inspiration. And so, I write.




Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to A Drift of Quills – In the Beginning, Inspiration

  1. I love that you started this post out with an excerpt from The Odyssey! Also, you are so right that what inspires we writers at the outset is not necessarily what will be gleaned by our readers. I guess that’s what people mean when they say that a story is not finished until the reader makes his way through it. He/she may read something quite different from what we think we wrote!

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts once again.

  2. Robin Lythgoe says:

    I, too, love that you started with that bit from The Odyssey. So evocative…

    Your observations remind me of high school English classes where we were required to state the author’s theme. How can we know? What they felt—what inspired them—might not be at all what the reader takes away from the work. I think we read what we need to learn, and the gifted writer gives us foundations, or glimpses of what *could* be. Our hearts and minds interpret based on our own experiences. What strange and wonderful magic is that?

What do you think?