There are few requirements to being a writer. All that’s really, truly, required is a good imagination, the ability to tell a good story, and the persistence to keep chasing your dream.
There are very few other jobs out there that let you make stuff up (lie, essentially) and get paid for it. Who knew all those tall tales I told my parents when I was little would come in handy one day? When caught, I should have just explained that I was building my résumé to avoid punishment. (If my kids are reading this, don’t try that excuse on me.)
In my Lucy Valentine series, the basic premise is that Lucy is a psychic who comes from a long line of matchmakers who received the ability to read auras from Cupid himself. That cute little cherub, however, also cursed the family. This leads to all sorts of mayhem.
Where do story ideas like that come from? Sure, some elements from the book come straight from headlines. The missing little boy in Truly, Madly came from a local news story, one that didn’t have a happy ending. That was one time where I used my vivid imagination as therapy.
Other storylines are just there, born out of pure imagination. It’s just a matter of playing the “what if” game. What if there was a psychic who loses the inherited ability to read auras but gains a different ability altogether? What if she “sees” a diamond ring on the hand of a skeleton? What if her matchmaking client might be guilty of murder? What if she meets a guy, possibly the love of her life, and has very different kind psychic reaction when they touch? What if she has a grandmother who can’t help but get involved in her granddaughter’s love life? What if a little boy is lost and she thinks she can’t do anything to find him? What if, what if, what if…
As a writer, my imagination is my greatest strength.
On the flip side, in my normal everyday life, my vivid imagination is a weakness.
I’m the first to think that the sirens I hear in the distance are because one of my kids was driving and had an accident, and I think the same thing if they’re more than five minutes late. Or, I’ll be on the way out of town and I’ll start thinking I left the iron on and have to turn around. If I’m home alone and hear a noise, I immediately imagine an intruder is in the house (this is often embarrassing when it’s only the freezer making ice cubes). Don’t get me started on calls in the middle of the night.
I can hardly watch those medical shows on TV (Mystery Diagnosis for example) without thinking I, my husband, one of my kids, family members, close friends, acquaintances, even the clerk at Kroger (she has a pronounced twitch) might have some sort of rare disease, gene mutation, or brain tumor.
Thankfully, writing helps me cope with my overactive imagination. I take my everyday fears and put them into books, twisting them into what ifs. My own kind of blessing and curse, I suppose.
I really wouldn’t have it any other way (though, for the record, if my kids could get home on time I’d appreciate it).
Heather Webber grew up in a suburb of Boston, where she learned early on how to ride the T, skip rocks in the ocean, and root for the Red Sox. As a young mother, she tried her hand at writing novels and hasn’t looked back. These days she lives in southwestern Ohio with her high school sweetheart and their three children. She is currently hard at work on her next novel. Find her on her blog.