Fiction as Inspiration: “It’s like getting a crush on a book.”

I ‘m sometimes asked in interviews, “What book {that you didn’t write but loved or admired] do you wish you had written?”

I always answer: None.

When I fall in love with a novel that I haven’t written, one of the reasons I fall in love with it is exactly that I couldn’t have written it. If I could have, I guess I would have. Instead, I’m so thrilled and even grateful to read a story I wouldn’t have told, and therefore could never have encountered if there hadn’t been another writer there to write it with that person’s unique vision and sensibility.

There’s a flip side to that question.

I know a number of writers who got serious about writing after they read a story or book they considered so poorly done that they said to themselves, “I can do better than this.”

I don’t specifically recall having one of those moments, either.

But if you take those two questions, mash them together, something does emerge about fiction as inspiration.

Every good novel I read is an inspiration, and I’ve read a lot of good novels in my time (or at least novels that worked for me, regardless of whether other readers might have thought them good).

Sometimes I read a novel that is both good and which also just hits all my sweet spots. It may or may not be better than other books I’ve read, but it gets up under my ribs and straight into my heart.

I just finished reading an unpublished (and not under contract) novel that involved me so deeply with a subject matter and approach that I don’t see often but which really hit home for me, that the pleasure and thrill of reading story overtook me, made my heart race, made me stay up way too late. Made me smile with the pure joy of falling so hard.

It’s like getting a crush on a book.

When that happens, I get excited all over again about writing. I remember how wonderful it is to be on the reading end of a story that captures me that strongly. Remembering that makes me able to dive back in with renewed excitement and vigor to my own writing. Reading a novel that takes me in that manner makes me want to write, not as competition, but as celebration.

It can happen! It’s there! It’s awesome!

That’s inspiration.

4 thoughts on “Fiction as Inspiration: “It’s like getting a crush on a book.”

  1. I wasn’t going to say as it sounds ridiculously fangirl, but it’s just too fortuitous for you to have blogged about this. I have ust begun to write again after many years. It wasn’t so much your books ( much as I have felt like I had a crush on them ) but also that you blog ABOUT writing. I came to your book through a Katharine Kerr group and you both have written brilliant novels as well as both sharing your processes regarding world building and genre writing.
    I had a baby the minute I finished Uni ( and by minute I mean 6 weeks). Many part time jobs and another child and 8 years later, I finally feel like I have the courage to write again. Now, this very week ! I say courage because I have only recently realised that was I’ve been lacking. I love reading and writing so much, I feel a bit terrified about what I might feel when it doesn’t work out.

  2. Maddie, you are already amazing. The terror is normal. If you write because you want to write and see a story unfold and explore your own creativity, then it is already working out. That’s the first and most important thing. Go for it!

  3. That is heartening :) Thanks for replying, I was a bit sunburnt and heatstroked when I wrote that. The next morning I had an awful feeling about spelling mistakes and also sounding like a wierd stalker.
    I’ve pushed terror aside in favour of just writing without expectations. It doesn’t have to be a prize winning debut novel, or a ten part series of epic proportions. I will just write and see what happens.

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