Friday, July 11, 2014

Past, Present, and More Odd Places Where Inspiration Hides

There are a series of pictures circulating the internet where an old picture (usually black and white) depicting the scene of a murder or a historic event (like a war, or the burning of a building) is superimposed on the location where it happened as it looks today. One of such projects, the one that got my attention for the first time and the one I think started the whole craze, is the brainchild of NYC Press photographer Marc Hermann. It is a graphic reminder that the world we live in is full of forgotten stories. But it was while reading some of the commentaries that I found the idea that set my mind on fire. I'm not even sure where I read it, but I know it said something like "You never know where you're standing. The world is a cemetery."

Wow. What a statement, and it stuck with me. If you think about it, we've been living and dying on this earth for about 200,000 years (really, I looked). If every dead fellow from the first Homo Erectus to John the neighbor who died this morning were to raise from the dead, the earth would not be overcrowded. It would explode. At this point in our history, the dead far outnumber the living. It bears to reason that the same spot where you are sitting has witnessed at least one death (animal or human) in the past, and in that sense we are all living on top a cemetery.

That is a disturbing idea. And I love it, so naturally, I wanted to share it with you. I often write here about the strange places where inspiration hides. Authors of the past, artists, poets, filmmakers that drew inspiration from the darkest, most unlikely events. This project, The Daily News - Then and Now by Hermann has brought that experience to me. I can't wait to hear what you think of it. If you want to see the pictures, follow the link. I won't post all of them here because some are graphic and I want to let you decide whether to go ahead or not. But even if you don't want to look at them, the seed is still there. What sinister or interesting things might have happened on that same spot where your computer sits now? Do you know the history of the place where you live or work?

Given the facts I just presented above, odds are if you ask around, people you know will tell you stories. So I'm asking here. Tell me your story.

Park Slope plane crash in New York City
The wreckage after the crash of United Airlines Flight 826 and Trans World Airlines Flight 266 over New York City was well documented by the Daily News back in December 1960. Over 130 people were killed aboard the planes and on the ground in Brooklyn, making it one of New York's most tragic disasters. The crash also destroyed some buildings beyond repair. The ones that still stand can be seen in this compilation.
Source: The Daily News - Then and Now by Marc Hermann

Wednesday, July 2, 2014


So, I've been racking my brains trying to think of a good topic to post on the blog for quite a few weeks already. So far, nothing. I think the well of my ideas is going through a drought due to acute stress. Is funny how preparing to move to another country can do that to you. Anyway, this is the only lousy idea I came up with: A throwback Thursday kind of post minus the pictures (though if you find a way to add pictures in the comments, I'd be delighted. I LOVE pictures).

Lame? Maybe, just bear with me.

The idea is to think back to that time BEFORE you were part of the IWSG. How was your life like then? How did you feel as a writer? If you happened to stumble onto this blog and not be a part of the group, first let me tell you it's an amazing, supportive group and you should join. Second, you can still participate, just think of your life, say, five years ago. How much have you changed and what events were the drivers of such change? Do you feel it's been a possitive change? Go ahead, share. Do your best to paint a picture of yourselves at that time. It should be an interesting exercise!

Now, I'll go first. I joined the IWSG about three, maybe four years ago. I was beginning my writing carreer but didn't have much to show for. I had already a novella and a short story published, but since then about a year had passed without me writing much else. I was in French school for eight hours a day, then homework, family time, and cleaning time. Not much writer time for me and I felt guilty. I also was extremely insecure about my ability to write. What if those first success stories were a single, unique event? What if no other publisher would think my work was worth it? My books weren't selling like bread either, so fat chances that publisher would bet on me again, right? Maybe it was because I really had no talent.

I vowed to dedicate some time to my writing, at least to my blog, so I started participating in blog hops. That's when the real lucky break came for me. I met ninja writer Alex Cavanough in one of those blogs and was introduced to this novelty idea, a support group for writers struggling with confidence. Want to join? Hell to the yes!

At first it was a bit intimidating to open your soul for complete strangers to see, but to my surprise everyone was not only supportive, but their stories were so similar to mine! Turns out more often than not people expressed the same doubts and fears I was going through. I learned to cope, I got invaluable advice, and I went back to writing fiction.

Today I feel much more secure of myself, even after a new period of uncertitude in my live. I'm not writing as much as before, and my blog has fallen a bit on the wayside, but I know the writing bug is in me, ready to come back to live stronger than ever once the stress goes away. I'm trying to branch out now and write literary fiction; those are big boy's books now! I sent my first story to an editor friend of mine completely terrified that she would be offended at my lack of technique. I'm not too bad with grammar, but still, living with the stigma of "oh, you're not a native speaker" is a powerful thing. So I closed my eyes and hit the send button. Turns out she wasn't horrified. Of course the story needs loads of work, but that's okay. I'll learn the ins and outs of the genre as I learned with horror. The only way is up. However, I don't think I'd be so Kumbaya if it weren't for all the years of support from this group.

To all of those that have visited me over the years and offered words of wisdom and support, thank you. Know that you've made a real difference in my life. To those new to the group, welcome. Feel comfortable and free; we might be a bit crazy a times, but we're harmless. And we like to help.

Now it's your turn. Share away! And remember to clink on the dedicated page above to find a complete list of the participating blogs!