Where Do Stories Come From?

I stayed home today, thanks to a stomach that seems intent on making life as uncomfortable as possible and a wonderful hubby/partner/lifesaver who was willing to cover my class so that I could stay curled up with books and warm tea.

Today I am reading the final book in the Percy Jackson & The Olympians series,  The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan.

I admit, I am addicted to so-called Young Adult fantasy series and anything to do with magic. Sometimes the things written for adult readers simplydon’t take me where I want to go. To me, a good book for younger readers is simply a good book. There are plenty of poorly written ones out there, and I definitely have my favorites, but a story that can capture the attention of a child through not just one book but an entire series of them seems pretty impressive to me.

But this post is not about what makes good children’s literature, or whether or not Percy Jackson has made my favorites lists. No, this post is about writing and stories.

Thanks to my commitment to the Daily Post and a slowly growing community of readers and fellow bloggers, I am writing daily. I am writing many different things, ranging from letters to memoir essays, from rants to poetry. But one thing is missing–I haven’t written very much fiction lately. Except for one 600-word story that I submitted to NPR’s Three Minute Fiction Contest (wish me luck) and an invitation to join an adult novel writing class that I cannot afford at the moment,  the story well has run dry.

As Percy Jackson entered the River Styx to bathe in “all the dreams people had thrown away as they’d passed from life to death” (Riordan 132) I thought about my dreams of writing fiction, and having it read by others.  I love that people are reading some of my personal stories and some of my thoughts about the world. That is a powerful feeling. But I have always wanted to tell the stories that speak through other voices than my own. Now I need to figure out how to do that.

I don’t want my stories to end up wet leaves of paper on the River Styx.

But then, I wondered, do I really even have interesting or fascinating stories to tell? I have one book written that is awaiting judgment from certain publishing gods (wish me even more luck on that) before I can send it on its weary road of rejection after rejection after rejection. I thought it was a good story. (If you are interested, I posted this excerpt a long time ago). I have several other beginnings and ideas floating around in cards and in some form on this very computer. But I cannot seem to pick them up . . . the stories have disappeared into the abyss.

Where do stories come from? When I read these 6 book series, or discover stories that bring readers into worlds that they never leave, or meet characters that I welcome with delight as they return  in story after story by my favorite authors, I honestly wonder where the stories come from.

Is there a mystical melting pot of poetic language, character and plot that anyone can access? Is there a group of muses that selects certain individuals to inspire and help along the way? Or is story purely from an independent source, from the internal thought processes and life experience of each individual writer?

Sometimes I find stories pouring out of me from a source unknown. I am not writing them, they write themselves. So that suggests some kind of creative energy that can be accessed by all. I’ve simply lost touch with it.

My Muse Sleeps in a Sunbeam

I hope for a combination of creative energy and guiding muses;  because if it comes down to only individuals I wonder if my stories have faded away forever. I would hate to think that the joy I have found in blogging has silenced my inner fiction writer.

Do you have the desire to write fiction? Do you know where your stories come from? Do you find that blogging affects your ability to write fiction? I would love some insight!

8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. TheIdiotSpeaketh
    Feb 17, 2011 @ 12:42:31

    Much of what I write is what I call “Fictionalized Truth”….. I take an actual event from my life…..and then royally go to school on it…..warping it into the greatly fictionalized jumble you end up reading on my blog. I have never really had much luck just thinking of fictional ideas out of the blue…so I use my own experiences and family to get the little nuggets that end up becoming most of my stories….. Have a great day! 🙂


    • Lisa
      Feb 17, 2011 @ 15:26:49

      I would hope some of your stories are fictionalized truth. 😉 Then again, if it was all true, wow what a life.


  2. christinemgrote
    Feb 17, 2011 @ 14:23:46

    Good luck on your contest submission.
    Good luck again on your novel.
    And don’t worry. Your fictional well might be suffering from a drought, but I suspect the rains will come again.


  3. vixter2010
    Feb 18, 2011 @ 04:06:38

    It’s so hard to define where stories come from but if you read most novels, there are some basic story ideas there – love triangle, good vs evil, coming of age etc, it’s just about putting your own voice on things. Most writers who give out advice seem to say just write so I think blogging should help you on that road because you are writing everyday and when that plot garbs you, you will be able to put it down far easier afetr all this practice.
    Good luck with your submissions!


  4. thepetalpusher
    Feb 18, 2011 @ 16:59:52

    As I was reading this blog, I was thinking to myself, “Lisa, your writing has such energy–put a name to this dynamic character writing this blog and you’d have another book! For me, the writing comes from my photos or a kernel that just happens to have grown. Best wishes for your submissions, Lisa-san!


  5. Trackback: Diving Into the Pool of Inspiration « Woman Wielding Words

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