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Art Inspiring

By Ann Hite

Learn your craft. Is this something you’ve been told? Sound advice for all writers to follow. Without the technical knowhow to structure a sentence, paragraph, chapter, and book, we would be lost.

But what drives an author to sit in a room alone for hours each day working out her plot? In other words what inspires a writer to tell a story? This is a question I’m often asked. One would think after two novels and a novella, I would know. But the truth is the answer is ever-changing. Like a sunset from evening to evening, no two novels are the same. Neither is the writing experience. Case in point is my second novel, The Storycatcher. As I neared the end of the second draft, a revelation nearly knocked me down. Faith Dobbins, one of the characters, would have to be cut. She was boring and two dimensional, taking up space, collecting dust. This sometimes happens when writing novels. A character appears for discovery purposes only and then has to be eliminated. I was attached to Faith and didn’t want to give her up. Something deep down in my writing soul knew she had something big to say.

We are told as writers to stick to our work, show up on the page, but there is more to creating than just work.

Faith’s survival came to me as a quilting article written by a friend. Just to make things clear, I did not read this article because I am a passionate seamstress. I can barely thread a needle. The article featured an artist by the name of Susan Lenz, who rubbed headstones—yes the kind found in graveyards—onto fabric, pieced them into a quilt design, and created beautiful wall-hangings.

Two elements drew my interest: A person who loved cemeteries as much as I did and this unusual art captured in what has been traditionally seen as a woman’s ‘hobby.’ Art. Art people. In these intricately created pieces, I saw Faith’s story. I hadn’t gone deep enough into her character. I had no idea what her passions were, her secrets.

I emailed Susan and explained her work may have just saved a character’s life. Would she share her process with me? She answered with a resounding yes! Not only did Faith survive but a true friendship between two artists was born.

We have to step outside our comfort or discomfort with open eyes. See what is around us. Take a walk. Watch a movie. Have a conversation with a stranger. Be on the lookout for inspiration in the most unlikely places.

Faith Dobbins became a quilter in The Storycatcher and went on to become one of two main protagonists. Who would have ever thought?

If you would like to enjoy Susan Lenz art, click on the link below.

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