During a late lull at yesterday’s Indie Authors Day at the American Fork Library, I jotted down some thoughts, intending to refine them and post them today. Here they are.

Authors Are People Too

Authors are people too. I’ve yet to find any who aren’t. (That’s not a shot at AI, but it could be.) I’ve met a handful of authors who have become celebrities; even they are still people. Celebrities becoming authors is not even remotely the same thing, but for all I know they’re people too.

If you’re shy about talking to an author at a book signing or some other event, try to remember this. The author is probably shy about talking to you, even if she’s learned not to show it.

That sounds a lot like something we say about rattlesnakes, but I’ve never met an author who was a rattlesnake or vice versa. It’s just that most of us are introverts. We enter the world through writing our words, which you then read – not by talking to people, and especially not by talking to strangers about ourselves and our creations.

Where Do You Get Your Ideas?

At yesterday’s event, several people asked versions of the same question: Where do you get your ideas? From life? From reading or research? From imagination? It’s practically a cliché, but it’s not a bad question.

Even for me, as a writer mostly of contemporary, realistic fiction, the answer isn’t simple. Yes, from life. Yes, from imagination. Always both, in varying measures, and research is often involved, on small points and large.

I’m not dumb enough to write real people I know into my fiction. On the other hand, the story about the old man and the chicken (in my Christmas collection, Poor As I Am) was to some degree a tribute to an old man I knew, though he was different. And the chicken coop in it is almost identical to a real coop I knew well.

There may be one or two overarching ideas in a story. My other collection, The Dad Who Stayed, has a story in it that grew out of a phrase I overheard from two different people who were talking on their cell phones, as I entered or left the gym one day. But even a short story is filled with many smaller ideas. Each scene, each character may have many sources, always including imagination.

Why Short Fiction?

Another interesting question today was, What made me decide to write short fiction (as opposed to novels, which I’m also writing)? The two books I was hawking each have one novella – shorter than a novel – and a bunch of short stories, you see. The biggest reason of three I listed was this: There are things I want to write about that I don’t want to write a novel about, or somehow write into a novel someday as a subplot or characterization or whatever.

Among Friends

Today’s event featured a dozen authors, and we were there all day. Sometimes we were busy talking to people who stopped by our tables; sometimes there were lulls. But here’s another thing about writers, at least the writers I know. We like to help each other, support each other, encourage each other. Even in the lulls at such an event, we enjoy ourselves, chatting with each other. It’s often but not always shoptalk. To come full circle: I’m an introvert, and that works even for me.

Photo credit: generated by DALL·E 2 with prompt “pencil drawing of a 30-something woman writing at a laptop, with an empty thought bubble”