Like weddings in India whose rituals are totally mysterious to the westerner, Mexican weddings can baffle people unfamiliar with the intricate customs and traditions of the culture. Read “My Daughter’s Hand” on the Short Story page of this website to savor the folklore, frivolity and rituals influencing Mexican weddings.
In my blog titled Begin in the Middle, I state “All fiction is borrowed from life, even the most intimate biography includes only what the author wants to say.”
In my writing I am often inspired to write a short story or include a detail in a novel based on a small incident taken from real life. My Daughter’s Hand, my short story published earlier this year by Alamo Bay Press (see Short Story tab of this website), borrowed a small element that happened in my own family years ago at my brother’s wedding. That minor incident rolled around in my brain for years until one day I started a poem titled My Brother’s Wedding. I worked on the poem over a period of time, putting it aside several times, forgetting about it until it beckoned me to continue. Regardless of my edits, the poem was terrible but the kernel of inspiration kept compelling me to develop it. That’s how I re-cast it into a short story with purely fictional characters and events. As an aside, I’d like to mention I recently ran into my good friend David Gottlieb at an Orhan Pamuk reading in Houston. David related a story about Gloria Steinem. Gloria apparently said that if a poem is watered, it will grow into a novel. I then mentioned to David that I’d done two poems which had grown into short stories. And David replied, “See, that’s what happens when you water them.”
Let me return to another theme in my blog titled Begin in the Middle. This point refers to my friend Becky’s request for advice on writing a novel. As I’ve mentioned to her, she already wrote a compelling blog that could be easily turned into a novel. Social media and technology ushered in a new era where writers with successful blogs can turn their blog pieces into novels. The most notable blogger-turned-author is Andy Weir. The Martian, his first published novel, appeared as a FREE installment series on his website. Fans and readers of his website solicited a Kindle compatible version of The Martian. After the self-published e/version of Martian sailed to the top of Amazon’s sci-fi bestsellers, Crown Publishing Group purchased it and Martian rocketed to the summit of the New York Times bestseller list. And now, of course, the movie has been a huge success as well.
Of particular interest to me is that beyond the exhaustive research Weir did to get the science right in Martian, he is the son of a particle physicist father and an electrical engineer mother. Though his parents divorced when he was a child, their professions had significant influence on him. He was also an avid reader of science fiction writers Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke. Weir’s immersion in cutting edge science and technology as he grew up honed his experiences in the world of science. Those childhood experiences in addition to his knowledge of theories of the universe and galactic interplanetary travel combined further with his fascination for NASA inspired him to write The Martian.
In other words, writing does not occur in a vacuum. Every detail of our lives provides us with rich fabric from which to create fiction. So Becky, there is a lesson for you provided by those writers who start with a blog and turn those writings into a coherent novel.
Does anyone else reading this segment have advice for Becky? Please let us hear from you!