When personal struggles make for good story

For the past five days I’ve been with a friend who really needed someone to help her through a difficult time.  When I leave her on Monday, I am confident I will leave a renewed person behind, someone who has taken the necessary steps to become well again, both physically, emotionally and mentally.  I am glad I had the chance to be with her and help her through this trying time. It has also been very beneficial to me, both as a friend and a writer.

As an author, I was not surprised to find I was jotting down notes before I went to bed, noting places we went, people we met.  I have character notes out the whazoo.  Even the reason I am here has added great fodder to my writing.  Experiencing someone else’s personal struggles…seeing the way they handle grief and pain and how they endure to make their world right…is sure to add dimension to fictional characters.  Sure, pulling from your own experiences can add depth to characters, too, but sometimes inspiration comes from what’s around you, not from within you.

A view from the outside provides a different perspective.  You’re not blinded by your own emotions.  In fact, you’re emotions have to be more than rational to help the person who needs to lean on you like a rock.  You can witness the tears, the fear of the unknown, the anger, the loss and the desperation for a better future from a completely different angle.

Writers need both internal and external perspectives to write well.  The struggles my friend was and is facing are new to me as they are to her. I had no idea what to expect when I arrived.  It’s like a character arriving on the pages of your manuscript for the first time.  I submersed myself in the setting, the surrounding, the emotions.  This experience has shown me a different way to approach character development, settings and the conveyance of feelings.

I have three more days here, more places to go, more events to experience.  While not all fun and games, the writer in me is thrilled I stepped outside my comfort zone.  In turn, life has made me a better friend and hopefully a better writer.  Only time will tell, but the experience certainly can’t hurt.

What about you?  Do you use personal experiences or experiences of others to feed that element into your stories?

E is for Extraordinary

This is a continuation of the A-Z blog challenge.  Click here to see the list of all 1935 participants!

Extraordinary. What a glorious word. Just saying it conjures all kinds of ‘feel good’ sensations. What other word says amazing, bizarre, exceptional, fantastic, outstanding, uncommon, wicked, unique all at once. Why, the word by itself is extraordinary!

Extraordinary is all around us. Look at kids for one. They are sponges, soaking up every bit of information fed into them. Their imagination is wild, crazy, untouchable…


Look at food. Look at what nature has given us to maintain our bodies and minds…fruits, vegetables, fish and crustaceans (can anyone say lobster and king crab legs? Heaven). Legumes, sweet potatoes…truffles (such exquisite delectable yumminess)…


Look at the artists you gravitate towards. Who else can paint like Van Gogh or Dali? Who else can weave sonatas like Mozart, Chopin, Debussy, or whip out a classic rock tune like Queen, Electric Light Orchestra or Pink Floyd? Who can bring you to the edge of horror like King or Koontz, or drop you into a love story like Sparks or Steele?  Who can fill children with fantastical wonder like Rowling or Kagawa, or leave them breathless and stunned like Collins? All of these artists and so many more are nothing short of…


Last but not least, don’t forget your friends (real and virtual), and those certain family members that put a smile on your face when you think of them. Something magical pulls you together. Something lights your soul when you hear their voice or see an e-mail or a blog post from that someone special. It is the most simplest yet most complex of all human emotions…Love. Love can be many things to many people. It doesn’t  necessarily mean romanticism. One can love the way a car looks or the way a tree bends in the wind. One can love hearing a baby laugh, or the smell of rain after a freshly cut lawn. Love is something you can’t touch but you can feel it deep in your soul, your heart and with every inch of your being. It is the one emotion that ties us all together because it is the one thing we, as human kind, need in order to thrive. Love is


And so are the people that fill our souls with it. So go hug them, write them a letter or an e-mail, pick up the phone, send out a blog…do whatever you must to tell those close to you how much they mean to you. When you spread the love, that makes you


to those on the other end.