Friday, May 08, 2009

Writing Journey: Part XV

Part I Part II Part III Part IV Part V
Part VI Part VII Part VIII Part IX
Part X Part XI Part XII Part XIII Part XIV

Many times over the years while doing events for my temple novels, I'd have people excited about one book or another specifically because of the temple it features. Maybe their daughter attended Utah State in Logan, or the reader was married in St. George or their parents were married in Salt Lake. 

But I frequently got one  question: What about Manti? 

Turns out that Manti is one of the most popular temples. More people seem to have a personal connection with it than to the others.

"It's next," I said every time.

But yeah . . . no pressure on writing a book about that one. 

As I'd done with three prior temples, I spent time seeking out sources about the Manti Temple and the founding of the city. I found a couple of books and two master's theses, all with great information.

But I ran into a couple of problems. 

First, most of the information I found was either about the founding of the city or about later improvements to the temple. Sure, there was stuff about the groundbreaking and fundraising and whatnot, but I wanted meaty information about the construction itself.

Second, I wanted the book to be set in the 1880s when the temple was well underway. But after reading about the settlement of Manti, I also wanted significant story elements from that era. Those two didn't really fit, because a twenty-something main character in the 1880s wouldn't have been born when Manti was settled.


I spent weeks sort of freaking out because I had no characters and no plot. I half wished I was doing another Shakespeare retelling as I had with Spires, because at least then I'd have a skeleton of a story to go by.

One day, right about the time I was going to panic, I was blow drying my hair (which in and of itself is pretty rare; I'm an air-dry girl). Hair drying is one of those brainless activities like vacuuming and going on a walk during which, I believe, your creative side can work without you always knowing it.

With my hair half dry, a line of dialogue popped into my head. "It's Tab, not Tabby. I am not a cat!"

I grinned into the mirror.

It was as if Tabitha had walked onto my mental stage. I knew who she was. I knew her past. I knew her personality. I knew about her son. I knew some of the challenges ahead of her.

I didn't know a lot about what her story would become once she returned to Manti. I had yet to meet Samuel or Jeremiah or Mantia, for starters, although I did know about the newspaper. 

Most importantly, I knew I had a story, and I couldn't wait to get to the computer to pound out what I'd found and discover more of it.

Only I had yet another minor problem: Easter was in less than a week. I had to sew my three daughters Easter dresses. It was either disappoint my girls, who were counting on me keeping up the tradition, or bottle up the creative energy and let it sit on a shelf for a week.

The dresses won out. But after Easter, you couldn't tear me from the keyboard.


Lara Neves said...

I am amazed that you sew the Easter dresses every year! That's awesome!

And, I'm sure I've said it before, but I think it's the coolest thing how the characters seem to come to you like that.

Melanie Jacobson said...

I have a new character nagging at me right now for my next story and I feel like saying, "Shhh, I have 15,000 more words to go on my WIP." But the details pour in anyway.

Kaylynn said...

I'm an airdry girl myself!

Kimberly Vanderhorst said...

I think I need to blow dry my hair more often . . .

Josi said...

I'm with Kim--I need a blowdrier! it's very cool to hear how inspiration comes about.

Annette Lyon said...

Yeah . . . if only inspiration always came with a blow dryer. Never again since!

Anonymous said...

I love your Writing Journey posts! I got hooked on them a while back and the only thing I need a fix for more is Word Nerd Wednesdays!!! =]

Anonymous said...

For me, it's the shower. When I was YW president, my counsellors soon came to understand the preface, "I was in the shower the other morning ... ," to mean, "Listen to this fabulous piece of inspiration."

TisforTonya said...

so... maybe if I spent more time in the bathroom I'd finally get some inspiration...

Air drying is the way I usually go, but I might just try the other if I could blow a little idea into my brain that way!

Loralee and the gang... said...

It is funny the places where inspiration hits sometimes. Mina's shower inspirations make me want to point out that sometimes we're able to get inspirations when little voices aren't buzzing in our ears. (and by that I mean the kids, not other personalities)
It's also so fun to read about how you wrote this book after I was lucky enough to win it so I could read it! (btw I'd buy it for sure!)
So I'm doing a little sure to stop by and enter! I'll be doing the drawing on Monday May 11.

Anonymous said...

Like Mina, I'm a shower girl. All the best idea/therepy happen there!
Have a happy Mother's Day!

Tristi Pinkston said...

You're such a good mom ... I wish I sewed.

wendy said...

Well, there ya go ------inspiration at it's best. It is amazing how sometimes things just "come to you". Don't laugh at me !!!!--but one time I had to write a script for a road show, and it literally JUST CAME TO ME in moments I had it pretty much put together. Then fine tuned it . AND WE WON EVERYTHING!!!!!
(thanks-maybe God likes me a little bit after all)

Jo said...

Love the story. I love knowing that the story caught you up.

Chas Hathaway said...

I've always been amazed at how characters just appear out of nowhere, and no matter what the story plot is, the character somehow slides into the plot like a puzzle-piece, almost without effort. It's like the story knows more than the author.

Freaky, but cool!

- Chas


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