Writers of fiction have a gift, called a wild imagination. But it is a lot more than just imagination that contributes to a novelist’s characters and plots. Some consume the realism around them along with a dash of make-believe. Together, nonfiction and fiction can make the perfect recipe for a novel. I enjoy mixing the real world with a fictional world. I watch people (but I’m no stalker). Let me say, I pay attention to people, stay aware. I gather a sense of how people behave, and tune into to the news to see what society, what the world is stressing or praising about. I want to know what people are interested in, what their obstacles are, and what flaws they battle with. With this, I toss it in with my imagination and write. So, I observe and make up stuff. Like a lot of fiction authors, I already have the ideas stored in my subconscious. Why should I allow them to go to waste? Nonsense!
A lot of what I and others write, is obviously from our on stream of conscious. This must be done carefully, as an author’s voice could drown out the intended voice of the narrator and characters. The author’s voice should not exist in the story. But that is another topic, for another time. That said, real life events can provoke a novelist to create a character and story. Below is an event I experienced which influenced writing part of story.
The strangest thing that has ever happened to me, or one that stands out, might be getting lost while hiking alone in the Blue Ridge mountains. I came across bear tracks, bear shit and, I kid you not, Sasquatch size footprints. I do not conclude that such a species exist. There is no hard evidence. The foot marks that I saw, however, were real (fabricated by some one, a huge black bear, or something else). I was lost, it was growing dark, bear prints are all around. I’m gripping a steak knife. The trees were blowing hard and cracking in the wind. I thought I found my way to a road, but it was just narrow valley. Left or right could have been the correct direction. So, I’m forced to turn back the way I hiked, where the bear marks and scat was.
My feet burning with blisters, I pass by a lake. In front of it was a burial site with graves decorated with rocks, formed in shapes I did not understand. Night is about to fall, so I’m thinking of finding a place to camp. No, bears. I grow more determined to find the road. It was either that or hike the fifteen miles to the top of the mountain I began, where the clouds swallow everything. Along the way, I find a photo of someone’s kid. Strange that such a photo ends up in the forest. Baby cubs cry in the brush. The thought of momma bear rushing out and ripping into me with her fangs almost made my bladder bust. I hike faster.
I find the road, and after a few asshole rednecks speed by me in their trucks, I am picked up. By the time I reach camp a pale silvery moon appeared. I had just made it.
True story. I still wonder about the source of the footprints. People who live near the mountains are very superstitious of Bigfoot. There has been a reality show in filmed in the area, that pay people to track the so-called whereabouts of Sasquatch. So, they could have fabricated those giant footprints before filming out there. Who knows, maybe there is such a creature that is so elusive. No, I did not develop any ideas to write about a Sasquatch ;). The solitude, the loneliness and fear of being lost raised questions, which caused be to develop ideas. I do not think anyone could understand how vulnerable they are until they are consumed by nature, by the merciless wild.
I was scared to say the least. However, I took a load of ideas with me, and a lot of ideas resurfaced while I was hiking.