Monday, November 4, 2013

Guest Post: Jeri Walker-Bickett

HI GUYS. I HOPE YOU'RE all well and happy. I have a special treat for you. Jeri Walker-Bickett is one of my many online acquaintances and I'm honored to have her on my blog today. Enjoy and please feel free to share your thoughts. 

Creative Writing Inspiration and Literary Landscapes

Creative writing draws from the writer's literary landscape. Much of literature places a great deal of importance on the power of place. To some, the landscape simply refers to a chunk of land that can be taken in with a glance. For others, the definition is more complex. Literary landscape includes everything that feeds into creative writing inspiration. Annie Proulx in her essay "Dangerous Ground" points out, "landscape is rural, urban, suburban, semirural, small town, village; it is outports and bedroom communities; it is a remote ranch." 

Wallace, Idaho
Within those landscapes, thousands of stories are just waiting to be told. I grew up in the rough-and-tumble mining town of Wallace, Idaho. My hometown boasted a nearly equal number of bars, churches and whorehouses until the late 1980s when a massive FBI raid put an end to the prostitution and gambling. In my early elementary years, I can remember going to the grocery store with my mom and noticing one of "the girls" now and again, always given away by their excessive makeup and elaborate hair. 

My first collection of short stories, Such is Life, shows how my creative writing inspiration comes from the profound loneliness of a population just struggling to get by in a confusing and contradictory world. Wallace's annual drunkfest becomes the springboard for a tryst between a carnival worker and a teenager in "Pretty Girl." The no-frills Laundromat owned by a friend's grandma provides the meeting place between a young man and a drug addict. My family's beloved, but overly protective German Shepherd turns into the focus of "For the Love of Dog." 

The two other stories in my collection are also triggered by the inevitable clashes between the seeking of a happier life and the reality of daily struggles. Richard Hugo's essay, "The Triggering Town" states, "The poem is always in your hometown, but you have a better chance of finding it in another." So my literary landscape includes an exploration of my mother's struggle with bipolar disorder, but the only way I could write "River Walk" was to place it in New Orleans and make her an artist. Finally, "Not Terribly Important" finds me asking what would happen if an English teacher published stories deemed inappropriate by a conservative community. I could not explore such a landscape until I finally left it. 

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Where does your creative writing inspiration come from? What populates your literary landscape? 

Author Bio and Links: 
Jeri Walker-Bickett (@JeriWB) is an author, freelance editor and former educator. She writes short stories, creative nonfiction and psychological suspense. The rough mining town she grew up in--with its mix of bars, churches and whorehouses--populates her literary landscape. Food, travel and photography also inspire her creativity. She currently lives in Idaho with her wonderful husband and their demanding pets. She blogs about literature and writing on her "twisted" book blog, What Do I Know? Please connect with her at or explore her titles via Amazon. 

1 comment:

  1. Great exploration of place in creative writing! I, too, have not been able to write about some places and the stories that went with them until I was years and miles down the road. I think time and distance gives us a perspective to better understand what we want to write about.

    Enjoyed your post!


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