Winnemucca Wednesday : Staying Inspired, Libraries, and Who Are These Voices?

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Ginny literally told me her story in a flurry of two weeks nearly six years ago. I had just traveled to Romania at the invitation of the Alvigout foundation [which means “good works“] and was settling into a writing class that met once a week with the amazing Val Hobbs when Ginny started to tell me her story. I think because she told me her story so fast and in such a condensed period of time her voice was strong. Only thing was, she left out one little part–the end. And so it went. I had a beginning and a bit of a middle, but no end. In the meantime, Joe and I would raise our daughters and see them off to college and careers of their own. And our lives would change drastically from our stable, suburban LA life to one of spontaneity and the road.

So how did I keep inspired all the while I was trying to figure out where Ginny was headed? Well, I knew Ginny didn’t have any more to say. So I relied on the cast of characters to tell me more about the story and more about Ginny, herself. I sought inspiration in the printed word. The Fairy Truck Driver character is inspired by Johnny Cash. I decided since I had written a whole character around him, I had better read his autobiography, CASH. So I did. If anyone wants a lesson on voice, IMHO, all you need to do is go to the library and check out CASH. The one constant I’ve found on the road are libraries. They are fabulous. The are home to me. And if it wasn’t for the amazing librarians I’ve met on the road and great collections I’ve had a chance to poke around in, to find the inspiration I needed to write the ending, Winnemucca would never have seen publication. Here’s the first sentence of CASH, it’s a beauty: “My line comes down from Queen Ada, the sister of Malcom IV, descended from King Duff, the first Kind of Scotland.”

I also found, quite late in my writing, a historia from Lydia Mendoza, the first female mariachi to rise to fame in the nineteenth century at the tender age of 17. Reading Lydia’s words also helped to keep the story authentic and strong. Lydia flavors several characters in Winnemucca.

And so that’s how I did it. I had to learn to trust myself to follow my characters and my instincts to The End.


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