Monday, May 4, 2015

What Inspires You to Write? The Story Behind the Story

“The world was more than a place. Life was more than an event. It was all one thing, and that thing was: story.”-Luis Alberto Urrea  ♦ 
As a writer, you have the ability to tell a story in your own words and use your own creativity. This individual creativity and interpretation of life is what makes writers special. For a lot of writers, it’s not the process of actually writing the story that proves to be complicated, it’s the ability to come up with a story and find something to write about. Everyone has a story and has the ability to tell a story with their words, but many face the challenge of finding something that inspires them to write or express themselves in some form. This inspiration can come from many different sources: books, dreams, conversations, news, events in your life, real people, and fantasies.
     Like anything that happens in life, there is always a story behind it. People enjoy listening to their favorite music, reading their favorite books and watching their favorite movies because of the entertainment and joy it gives them. Often times we do these things without ever taking the time to think about the story behind where it came from. These books and movies were created by a certain individual or group of individuals who had such a deep passion for something that they felt the need to create it and share it with others. But the books we read sometimes have a backstory that’s just as interesting as the story itself. What inspires these people to create the amazing work they do? This doesn’t only apply to bestselling authors or famous actors, it applies to everyone. Each artist, whether big or small, creates work from inspiration that they find in their own lives. As readers, we are lucky enough to be given the chance to have a deeper look into the thoughts and imaginations of these artists and maybe we can even find our own inspirations through theirs.
    Finding inspiration for a story is not restricted to only certain types of writers or certain genres of stories. Any type of story can come from any moment that presents itself. As many writers and readers know, the Twilight Saga is a best seller series of novels written by Stephenie Meyer. While many literary fanatics have read this fictional love story, I can bet that many don’t know about how this series originated or where Meyer got the motivation to write this series.
     Stephenie Meyer can still recall the day she began writing Twilight, because it was the first day of swim lessons for her kids. She recalls having an extremely vivid dream the night before where your average girl was talking to this beautiful vampire in a meadow in the woods about how they were falling in love, but at the same time he was also restraining himself from killing her from the scent of her blood. Meyer described the morning after saying, “I stayed in bed, thinking about the dream. I was so intrigued by the nameless couple's story that I hated the idea of forgetting it; it was the kind of dream that makes you want to call your friend and bore her with a detailed description.” From that point on, Meyer said she wrote something for the book every single day. Finding names for the characters was extremely hard for Meyer, but with some research and a little inspiration, she came up with the names. The name for the female protagonist, Bella, came from an inspired love that had grown for the character while writing the story. She named her Bella after the name she had always wanted to name her daughter that she never had. After two more years of work on the story and finding publishers, Meyer finally got the book on shelves and the rest is history. One simple dream turned into two years of hard work that paid off for Meyer, who is now a bestselling author.
     “I believe the best stories result from characters who come to me when I’m not looking for them,” said John Herrick, author of the novel, Between These Walls. In 2011, Herrick had a novel idea that came to mind about a Christian middle-school student who struggled with being gay. At that time, Herrick didn’t think he had the courage to write a story like that so he decided to save the idea but not pursue it. One year later, Herrick was watching the news one night on the television and came across the story of a 15 year old boy who was on the verge of suicide as a result of the bullying he received at school because he was gay. Herrick’s heart broke for the kid and he decided to begin Between These Walls that night. Herrick created his main character, Hunter Carlisle, and depicted him as a classic All-American male dealing with the struggles that come from when people find out you are gay. Herrick wanted to make the story relatable and help readers find commonalities with the protagonist. He hopes this novel will challenge readers and change readers’ perspectives on being gay.
     These two stories, though very different, were developed in such unique ways that they make the stories themselves even better. It’s interesting to think about the fact that a fantasy story like Twilight was inspired by a dream while the more real life story was inspired by actual events that had happened. It just shows that this inspiration for writing can come from anywhere at any time.
     As I continue to write for the rest of my life, I also will continue to look for opportunities around me that I can create into a story that can inspire someone else. Half the fun of writing a story is finding the story that I want to write about. As writers and readers, I hope you will accept the challenge to find what inspires you. Take the time to appreciate moments in your life and never take any for granted. Most importantly, find the story behind the story.
  • About the Author
    Joey Battista is a senior English: Professional Writing major and Marketing minor here at Miami. In his free time he enjoys leisurely writing and participating in intramural sports on campus. Joey spends his summers at his beach house in Maryland working and enjoying photography. Three of his photos have been published.

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