I started to write one night and found myself thinking of my first girlfriend from when I was in grade school. I needed a name for the main character so I nostalgically chose hers. The story is fiction so there’s no correlation between her and the character other than her name, though, perhaps it’s a story of how things might have been. Her name lends itself to the title and the ambiance of the story.
Most of my characters and plots come from real life. One fictional character though really stands out. Sarah, in The Last Exit, is the motivation behind a dream sequence that goes from a car on the road to a flying carpet and then hula dancers who lead the way to heaven up a narrow staircase that stretches all the way to Orion.
When my first piece, South of Tomorrow, was published, I was ecstatic. “Wow, I’m a published author.” That thrill has never worn off and I’m still that kid in the candy store every time something gets published. I think though, that I would be doing this without ever getting published. Writing is just in my blood. It gives me purpose and each piece is like a child to me, a little thrill.
I edit my work constantly. It seems that nothing is ever really finished. This requires daily dosages of dictionary, a grammar checker, and a thesaurus. I seldom start with a story in mind. My process involves finding the story one line at a time. It’s a haphazard approach but it yields results.
History fascinates me so I enjoy fiction that is loosely formulated around such events and times. James Clavell’s Shogun is a prime example. The way he weaves plot lines and characters into historical context intrigues me. One of my first real obsession with fiction though came when I read J. R. R. Tolkien’s Hobbit and Lord of the Rings trilogy. I couldn’t put them down. I was literally walking around with a book in my hand, crossing streets with my nose in the pages.
I have things I use to deal with writer’s block. As I mentioned, I just start writing whatever comes to mind, one line after the other. If all else fails, I just start writing disassociated words until something sticks, one after the other as fast as I can produce them.
I have several outlets for creativity. There is my writing. And then there’s music, photography, and sculpture. With all that going on, there is little time for dwelling on negativity. I just push it aside and create.
‘Soft Contours’ by Richard Grahn features in Tall Tales & Short Stories Volume One.