I don’t know how the brains of all reading addicts work. But for my own brain, we will often read a story together, my brain and I, then go on a tangent, and make up a new story about something it just saw in the book we’re reading. I’m not talking about writing fanfiction, though that has often happened as well. I’m talking about reading a scene, or even a single line, and wanting an entirely new story completely separate from the novel as a whole, totally unrelated to the story, based just on that singular line. Maybe there is a proper term for it, but in my head I’ve always referred to it as a story by a line.
Recently, I read Tower of Thorns by Juliet Marillier. If you have not yet discovered her books, get thee forth and start reading! Celtic mythology blended with history and mist and romance. How can that be a bad thing? But I digress. In Tower of Thorns, one of the main characters, Grim, said, “If I could write, if I could draw, if I could ever make my own book, I’d have a picture of a monk and a cat, and a story to go with it” (Marillier, 2015, 302). I want to write that story for Grim. What’s the monk’s name? How did he become a monk, and why?
I think maybe he is old and a little doddering and has a lot of stories to tell. He is a treasure trove of knowledge, if only he can remember it, and he jots it all down when he does. His fellow (younger) monks probably think of him as hopelessly old fashioned. He’s really like my grandad in that way…
Perhaps he is from a far-off place that seems too distantly removed from the way of life the other monks are used to, and so he’s never really fit in easily. He thinks too differently, sees things from too strange a perspective. He will always be a foreigner, always be Other, even if he is from the same island and faith as the rest of the monks.
Or did he have grand adventures as a young man and wanted a life of quiet contemplation in his old age? He could have traveled the world and seen wonders his younger self (and younger brethren) could never have imagined. In his travels, did he fall in love with a beautiful, exotic woman and make a life with her? Did he learn that people are all people regardless of creed or nation or color and wanted to teach that to others?
Does his cat like to walk all over his book while he’s trying to work like mine always did? Did it leave a paw print on a book? Maybe the monk is actually allergic to cats and would love nothing more than for the cat to go live in the barn and catch mice there, but the creature has attached itself to him and won’t go away. Maybe that cat is Pangur Ban. Marillier’s books are set in Ireland, after all. It’s possible.
My favorite authors have always inspired me to write. Do you have any lines from a book that have inspired you to write?