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Searching for Story


"You can’t wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club." - Jack London


When I decided to write my first novel, I had to choose the period I wanted to work within. That wound up being a little more complicated than I first expected. The readership probably does not know that my original intent was to write a story set during The Great Depression. While most of the characters in Dunnigan will live to see that era generally known as ‘The Depression,’ the story takes place during the economic boom that preceded the subsequent market crash in the Fall of 1929. How did I come to write a story in the 20s instead of the 30s? It is as simple as this: I went where the research took me.


As Jack London suggested, I got my club out and went after inspiration. Bit by bit, I found it through research, but I was being led decidedly into a different decade than I anticipated. I once heard one of my favorite authors say something along these lines, “When you go searching for story, story comes searching for you.” I think there can be something deeper at work in the creative process. Some may say it like this, “Write the story that wants to be written.” For me, it came down to going where my gut feeling took me. That applied to every aspect of the story, not just the setting.


The great thing about creative writing is that each writer gets to do it their way. If there is a downside, criticism may be in store, but there is a lot to learn from accepting that for what it is, too (I may have to do future writing on that matter). I find it much more important to write something you are happy with than to write what you think someone else will accept. There will be those who do not like it, regardless. That is the lovely thing about the one hundred and thirty million books in the world; there is one for everybody!


So, I am here again with club in hand, going after inspiration for my next story. I have been thinking that it will take place during the period following the Civil War, but I may wind up elsewhere. Who can say? Once again, I will have to go where the research takes me. With any luck, maybe some of you will see fit to join me at the destination!




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