Exploring the secrets that inspire novels


I read every word in The Post and Courier connected with Pat Conroy’s death.

Author postmortems and bios accompanying book reviews always grab my attention. They give me a small window into understanding the minds of those who are capable of writing novels, and may, hopefully enable me to discover the secret of how to unearth my novel.

One of Conroy’s quotes in the paper points out my problem.

He said, “Because I read, I wanted to write. Because I lived and read, I wanted to write stories, ’cause I lived in South Carolina, ’cause I went to The Citadel — and my Lord, The Citadel — I had stories flying out of me from everywhere.”

Stories, yes, but what is his spark that inspires novels?

Is it the person’s own experiences that kindles him/her to organize thoughts and express them in an interesting story line?

If it is living unique youthful experiences that create the novelist, I am doomed to writing articles on travel, wine and golf, guaranteed to be forgotten as soon as read.

My upbringing was so normal, so nurturing, so stress-free that nothing written about it could possibly garner any interest.

There is a type of person whose inspiration for novels aren’t dependent on living unusual or dramatic situations. Their fertile mind includes the instinct to recognize and create book-length stories from even the simplest and seemingly most unremarkable circumstances.

Yes, I feel at times I’m peering through a translucent film, gazing at a morass of unrevealed and unconnected thoughts, observations and notions floating randomly, aimlessly, meaninglessly in a state of flux.

I know something should be done to free them from their useless state. If only I could. If only I had something in my hand that could break that frustrating, restraining film so those freed thoughts could rush into my mind’s well of inspiration and creativity.

It would mean I, too, have discovered the secret of creating page-turning novels.

Until then, I’ll keep reading the bios and postmortems.

Dennis E. Beacham of Folly Beach is an advertising agency account executive on wine and spirits accounts in New York City. He has written wine, golf and travel articles for regional and national publications.