I came across this quote recently on Pinterest, and it's so true. Even though we writers still strive to read for the enjoyment of it, each ingested word strengthens our writing abilities by broadening our vocabulary, smoothing out our plot understanding, and gives us a window into what works and what works even better.
|image found on Pinterest|
As I was writing Pity Isn't An Option, I was looking for the overall feel of hopelessness and lack not in the present time, but from a different time period. I needed to understand how it was when less was more. My grandmother grew up in an orphanage during the Great Depression with seven of her siblings. Their way of getting by was engrained so strongly upon her that she carried most of those survival "skills" into her adult life. Though she didn't speak much about her upbringing to me, her hoarding the most random and simple things (like rubber bands and hotel notepads and No. 2 pencils) proved that it had to have been hard. When I was little and stayed over, I never could get her to allow the bath water to go past my waist; each sandwich I ate where crust was left on the plate hurt her to the core--I could see it in her eyes; and not eating an entire egg was the worst atrocity on earth. It wasn't hatefulness, or bossiness, it was waste. There was never, ever enough, therefore, you did not waste anything.
This was kind of the feeling I was looking for while writing Pity Isn't An Option. In the readerly path I was on at that particular time, about four specific books not only enabled me to feel that lack by providing the light, but showed how differently people react when faced with same circumstances. Out of those four, two really grounded me in that understanding while giving me a sense of families who worked together in spite of that oppression: An Owl on Every Post by Sanora Babb, and A Northern Light by Jennifer Donnelly.
What about you? Are there any books in particular that have been your light, your inspiration? Why?