One thing authors often get asked is how they came up with the idea for their poem, story, or memoir.
In last year’s anthology, Equinox, we asked the authors this question, and included it in the book.
Let’s take a quick look at what three of the Equinox authors had to say:
For me, stories start with neither characters nor plot, but at an intersection. Not a road junction, but the fortuitous or deliberate connection of thoughts. My wife, Judith, and I were writing stories about the Vietnam generation for our collection, The War We Shared. Most of my tales involved guys who’d served in the war as I had, so I wanted to create a protagonist whose student deferment shielded him.
Thought #1: Vietnam had led me to a spiritual path on which I’d been strongly energized by “The Power of the Word,” one of the Pathwork Lectures. Wanting to share some of what I’d been given became Thought #2.
Thought #3, which became the basis of my story, “Black Lace, Broken Feathers,” was a complaint. Writing is a tough racket to get into, and I wanted to support myself at it. The brand-name authors always had a significant jump on unknown writers like me.
So I had three elements, each complex enough to wrestle with the others. No title yet, and I still have no idea how “Black Lace, Broken Feathers” emerged, but I liked its tone. No plot, no characters, but I could build them to fit the situation.
All I had to do after that was write the damned thing.
BLACK LACE, BROKEN FEATHERS
William F. Crandell
Several years ago, I was gathering up boxes of photos and assorted albums of pictures that I had taken from my mother’s house after she died. I felt that beyond anything else, these photographs documented our lives. When I showed them to friends and other family members, their reactions were all different and not actually what I thought I saw. This gave me pause.
Within the boxes of photos that I found was one of the white mulberry tree that stood in front of my childhood home. Its branches and leaves stood stark against the backdrop of cement and brick. Its white, painted bark resembled a straitjacket surrounding its life and leaves.
Randomly, I pulled another photo–this one from 1958. My brother and I tumbling out of our room on the very Christmas that we got a new Admiral television as our family gift. The universe pointed out the contrast. It was clear that I needed to document this event and its impact on life as I knew it, so I would tell my truth and not leave it to a photograph.
Pictures do tell a thousand words, just all not in the direction we need them to go.
THE ADMIRAL AND THE
Mark Alan Polo
Home is a weekend getaway. Sitting in the sun on my deck looking at the woods is a vacation away from the mundane repetition of work-a-day week life. Nature, both human nature and the elements, and especially the way humans behave in their environment, provide inspiration for my writing. I am an observer of Mother Earth and her inhabitants, and a recorder of my observations.
I alternate writing locations, the leather chaise lounge by the picture window near the holly, or the wooden kitchen table, surrounded by houseplants, or the desk in my guest room looking over the bluebird boxes along our driveway. An iced coffee sits beside me, further fueling inspiration.
This essay came while contemplating much about the meaning of life, the existential boredom of suburban middle age, and the fabric of coincidence. Frequently, I am witness to something I cannot explain, some near miss, some run-in with a person I was just thinking about, silent thought transference with my husband, surreal dreams that portend real events, a random memory or scent that recalls such. While I have no explanation for the physics of coincidence, I can say that the answer, whatever it is, is outside of ourselves. My writing is often about the awareness of peculiar goings-on, the weird things people say, the strange things I see, to highlight the other-worldliness nature of nature.
It is in our very own backyard, not in some far-flung place, where true happiness resides. It is in the noticing of small things, the new buds on the camellia, a hornet’s nest in the eaves, a patch of moss by the birdbath, in coffee, that we find satisfaction. In such noticing we awaken, a transition from winter to spring, from fantasy to reality.
WHAT’S THE WORD?
BIRD IS THE WORD
Carrie Sz Keane
Equinox won Anthology of the Year from the Delaware Press Association. This means it will compete ate the national level.
Now YOU can read the collection that won first prize!