The Mark Blog

Random Inspirations

As we handed in our manuscripts for the Final Review on Friday, I couldn’t help but feel relieved. I could let my brain wander outside the world of my novel and be sparked by new ideas. This got me to thinking about what inspires me in my writing life. I came up with a list of inspirations that have either affected me deeply and still do or things that stimulate me in a very emotional way. This list isn’t about my favorite books or authors, but more about those works and people that have become part of my literary DNA. Hope you find some inspiration in this list as well!

Mario Vargas Lllosa's Nobel Prize Lecture

Emily Dickinson – Her life, because she rarely left her room and wasn’t so hot socially. I find a significant amount of neurotic solace in that. Her work, well, because it’s phenomenal.

The Great Gatsby – I don’t care that they say it’s overrated (I’m looking at you, Flavorwire). I don’t care that some think it’s a novel about rich people (I suppose you would think that if you didn’t understand the historical context of the novel. But still, lazy reading). I don’t care if you think it’s verbose, or florid, or ‘would get torn apart in a writing workshop.’ It’s a beautifully written novel with a final paragraph so poignant that its made an indelible mark on my literary memory.

Dorothy Parker – She embodied snarky and was the ultimate wit. Oh, and she was a woman.

Marquis de Sade – When they threw him in jail, he wrote. When they took away his pens, he wrote. When they took away his paper, he wrote. When they bound him, he wrote. Regardless of what anyone thinks about what he wrote, there’s no stronger commitment to the craft than using your blood as ink.

The Dictionary – Even if you read only a page, it’s difficult not to be fascinated by the origins of our language and the ideas a word can ignite.

Photography – Personally, I have a thing for black and white photography. There’s stories waiting to be discovered in every picture and definitely more than a thousand words. My faves are: Robert Frank, Man Ray, Dorothea Lange, Diane Arbus, Sally Man, Nick Brandt, Alin Ciortea, Marion Post Wolcott, and Dennis Hopper. Or just Google ‘insane asylums’ and start writing about the pictures you see.

Second Hand Shops – The life of an object is full of maybes. Tell me the story of that hand-carved pipe in the window. Or how about that broken compass?

Maslow’s Hierarchy – Whether it's valid in the world of psychology or not, Maslow’s pyramid of human development is a interesting tool for self-examination and to investigate the lives of your characters.