Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Julie Benson: Ideas

People often ask where I get my ideas. Frequently they fly at me from left field, many of them arriving while I’m driving. At those times it seems I pray for a red light to write down the idea, and of course, rarely hit one. Panicked I’ll lose the brilliant gem, I end up talking to myself to remember the idea until I can jot down the thoughts ping ponging around my brain.

That’s exactly what happened with my Wishing Texas Series. I was driving home from my office (Starbucks), and I wondered when my son Alex was leaving for east Texas to meet his friends at the lake/ranch. I remember thinking I was glad he still got together with his college buddies. Then I gasped, and actually said out loud, “What if friends from the Corps of Cadets at Texas A&M still got together every year at one of their ranches?”

A giddy rush of excitement burst through me as I thought about creating a story for each of these friends.

For me, the ideas start out that simple. That small.

As I nurture and grow the tiny seed idea starting with a character or core group of characters a theme forms in my mind, usually with a basic idea such as forgiveness, starting over, self-discovery, or whatever. But the journey always takes a different path than I plan because whatever’s going on in my life crawls into my stories.

This probably sounds like a “well, duh” moment, but the fact took me by surprise. I knew my world view and experiences would color my stories, but I didn’t expect my books to mirror my life to the degree they have. After all, my characters have their own back-story, their own history, their own baggage. But how much of mine they carry with them shocked me.

Lately my characters have wrestled with finding their purpose in life, and carving out a new path. Cassie, the heroine in To Love A Texas Cowboy, moves from New York to Wishing, Texas to raise her orphaned niece. My next heroine, Grace Henry in To Catch A Texas Cowboy, moves to Wishing to run Cassie’s bed and breakfast when she loses her job and no one will hire her. Both women have to reinvent themselves. Both must decide what to keep of their past and how to move forward.

Now here’s my duh moment. I’m facing the issue myself. The youngest of my three sons goes to college in a year. For twenty-five years my prime identity has revolved around being a mom, and now my life is undergoing a serious shift. I shouldn’t have been surprised the theme crept into my stories, but I was. 

Not that I set out to create character back-stories that highlight an issue I’m dealing with, I don’t. I think subconsciously my mind does that. Writers are always told to write what we know. Whether I mean to or not, good or bad, I guess I do write what I know. Or rather what I’m living.




Cathy's Pics said...

I love your stories!! Keep up the good fight!

Julie Benson said...

Thanks for stopping by, Cathy. I'm so glad you enjoy my stories.

Dany Fleming said...

I am so happy about your new Wishing series. It is totally relatable for me. Both of my kids are Texas Aggies and each formed lifelong friendships in College Station. My son meets up at least annually with a group of guys he lived with and hung around with that school. My daughter has begun meeting a group of girls down in College Station each summer with a group of girls at one of them's parents' home there. As for myself, I joined a group of Aggie moms about a dozen years ago to play bunco each month. About 10 years ago we decided to go on an annual trip. We started out small at North Texas B&B's and have branched out to New Orleans Disney World and San Francisco. My family's Aggie bonds mean the world to us and your Wishing series just brings those home to me. I am very grateful for that red light idea you had. Thanks for sharing it with your readers.

dstoutholcomb said...

been reading this story, not quite finished

Maria Yarrow said...

Congrats Julie on your success! I cannot wait to read your book someday. I love the photos on your blog. šŸ˜Š

Julie Benson said...

Dany, Aggies are definitely loyal, and once an Aggie, always an Aggie. Thanks for stopping by to chat.

Julie Benson said...

Thanks, Maria. The photos came from my son's friend, the one with the ranch in east Texas. He was so sweet to share them with me. The guys pictured are my oldest's friends from his squadron at A&M hanging out on the dock at the lake house.

TracyG said...

Congratulations on the release, Julie! And on your "boys"--they're going to make you proud, I know.

Why "Wishing", Texas? Love it! Where did that come from?

Julie Benson said...

Thanks, Tracy!

Julie Benson said...

Wishing came from the fact that the town's "claim to fame" is its wishing well. The twist is that the wish must be made for someone else in order for it to come true.

Julie Benson said...

dstoutholcomb, I hope you enjoy the rest of the story. Thanks for stopping by today.