Bolt of Inspiration

I started 2023 with very few writing goals because too many start to feel like obligations, and that’s the last excuse I need to skip writing time. My main goals were massive projects to work on all year:

  • Complete, edit, and possibly submit a novella-in-flash
  • Revise and query a YA book that’s been tucked away for over a decade

I also knew I wanted to take more workshops, and kicked off the year with two: one focusing on micros, one for sci-fi and speculative fiction.

I didn’t realize that, during those workshops, I’d get an idea for another massive project. The prompt was to use a photograph as your inspiration. I love ekphrastic work, so this was right up my alley. I even knew what photos to sort through to find the perfect concept.

When my paternal grandfather died, I spent a lot of time in his wood-paneled study. He had a box of prints curled with age. I loved sorting through them and trying to cobble together the true story of who took them, when, and where. No one knew. But I kept them and occasionally looked through them to get more clues.

I looked through the photos last week for this prompt and showed them to my dad. We searched each image for clues and then researched possibilities before realizing the pictures were from the 1939 World’s Fair in New York. Now we’re just trying to unravel the mystery of who in the family took them, with two major contenders: my grandfather and great-grandfather. Of course, they could have gotten copies of the prints from a friend or neighbor, and we’ll never know.

But the truth behind the photos isn’t my main concern. There are several sets that tell stories when you put the images in one order, then a different story when you shuffle them. And I can’t stop shuffling them, which led to my newest massive project: a chapbook of ekphrastic stories with the photos at the top of each page. I’ve already scanned the images and started writing, so I guess my previous resolutions will take a backseat for a bit…

“Colors in the Air” published at Visual Verse

I now spend the first of the month eagerly awaiting the image shared by Visual Verse. You have an hour to write a micro or flash ranging from 50 to 500 words, based on or inspired by the image. I’ve always felt like such a visual writer anyway, with a scene or person encouraging me to make up a story, and so far I’ve been so inspired by their images.

I’m honored that they’re sharing my piece, “Colors in the Air,” this month.