Every once in a while, a student will come to my office, saying she doesn’t know what to write.
And she’ll look up into the air until something dawns upon her, and then a smile (or pained expression) will spread across her face. Her brother’s addiction, she’ll tell me, or her pet dog, or her looming student debt, or her quest to bake the perfect red velvet cupcake, or her involvement in the Occupy movement.
“Write about that,” I’ll tell her and she’ll leave the office with a fresh burst of inspiration, a fresh sense of purpose.
When we write about the things that electrify us--either with joy or with fear--we bring a great zing of energy to the page. Energy that will propel our words forward; energy the reader will be able to feel.
Dance has always been one of my greatest passions; as I wrote The Book of Live Wires, I was thrilled to realize that my narrator Darryl’s grandmother had been a dancer. Through her journals (which Darryl has translated from Russian, Yiddish and French), I was able to vicariously experience what it would have been like to dance with two of my greatest dance influences--Isadora Duncan and Josephine Baker. These women have electrified me for years, and I loved translating their wild, uninhibited dance into fiction. Other aspects of the book charged me up, as well--writing about new parenthood, and illness, and other deeply embodied experiences made me feel more fully alive inside my own skin.
What electrifies you right now, as a writer? Please let me know in the comments below, and you could win a copy of The Book of Live Wires. The grand prize winner will receive an ebook and a rare physical galley of the book, along with a copy of my Bellwether-Prize winning novel, The Book of Dead Birds. The second place winner will receive an ebook and a rare physical galley of The Book of Live Wires, and third, fourth and fifth place winners will receive a free copy of the ebook. You can enter until Friday, January 27. The winners will be announced January 30.
I look forward to learning about what keeps you up at night, what thrills you and scares you and makes you race to the page.