Saturday, September 3, 2011

Writers: Where did you find inspiration?


Yesterday, I wrote about finding inspiration for my stories. I had not given much thought to it before now.

My inspiration started from a love of history and in particular, the underdog in history, those people who never get a chance to tell their side of the story. At least, that’s what I thought until last night. The idea of "history being written by the victors" is very true. As a writer, I like sifting through the facts to find out more about the other side; their struggle, why they lost and more important, how they survived. If I write about a particular period, it's almost certain that my protagonist will have experienced lots of tragedies along the way. They are survivors, who despite terrible losses, accept the pain and go on living.

I’ve since realized that the reason I tend to write about people who struggle against adversity has very little to do with their conflicts and courage, and much more to do with my personal history. I’m a survivor of sexual abuse. It’s not something that I’ve shared outside of my family or close circle of friends. Until now, that is. Abuse in any form is traumatic and weakens the spirit. It’s even more harmful when you’re a child and the abuser is a once-trusted adult. Even though I was a child, I had the courage to stand up to my abuser. There is something tremendously empowering about acknowledging something horrible in your past AND knowing that you had the courage to rise against it. But some who have suffered or survived abuse never get the chance to speak.

My own experience has led me to focus on characters and periods where the protagonists, the losers in history, have left little genuine information about their lives and suffering. History stifled their voices, by wiping their culture, eradicating their people or absorbing them. It’s a theme that consistent in Sultana and Sultana’s Legacy, where the Spanish conquest of the Moors ensured that the world view of the Nasrid Dynasty has come to us in modern times, mainly through the eyes of Catholic chroniclers. The theme is also present in On Falcon’s Wings, where the losses of the Saxons at the Battle of Hastings altered England’s history forever, almost eliminating the culture of a people that had existed for thousands of years. While I’ve written books to show the mettle and courage of the people who survived turbulent times, only yesterday did I connect my interest to my own experiences as a survivor.

Inspiration comes to us in many ways, from tragedy and triumph. For my fellow writers, what’s your source?   

4 comments:

Christine Murray said...

This is all very true. History also only records the struggles of the high born. The average person had little literary ability until recently, and so couldn't record their lives. Historians don't focus on the commoners, not until recently anyway.

Anita Davison said...

What a brave post, Lisa and your strong soul shines through. Love ya more than ever. The voice of the oppressed and abused must always be given its chance to speak.

jbchicoine said...

I guess we all have scary things that we tend to work through and show up in some shape or form in our novels. I don't have the specific baggage you have, but I have my own issues. I think I tend to kill off some of my favorite characters, as if somehow that could prepare me for one of my worst fears--losing someone I love and can't imagine a life without...

Lisa Yarde said...

Thanks ladies. I once attended a writers' conference where the key note revolved around using whatever emotions; sadness, anger, joy or triumph to spur your writing and keep you motivated. Have to channel those feelings somewhere and what better place than our stories?

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