A good deal of contemporary culture is characterized by our preoccupation with the stars and starlets who drive the social media, film, and music worlds. Whether we want to or not, we run into them on television, online, or in film. Some are really movers and shakers; others seem to be famous for no plausible reason other than that they are famous. Or so it seems if you are not in the loop.

As a writer, I’m inclined to follow the stars, contemporary or historic, who populate the writing firmament. I follow them because these individuals catch my imagination and I want to know more about them personally as well as what formed and influenced their writing. I read reviews of their writing by credible critics or other renowned authors. Is it in the hope that some of their starshine will rub off on me, or perhaps that I will pick up some ideas for stories or writing techniques? Without a doubt. I spend a lot of time (maybe too much) reading about Mann, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Atwood, Morrison, and others of their ilk in search of their magic. My quest is driven by countless internet sites about them and their craft. I subscribe to several sites that send me too many emails luring me to read more. They are only “too many” because I succumb to following their links and wind up disappearing down rabbit holes into the lives and crafts of my favorites.

One of the very best sources for these articles is a giant in the world of literature and literary criticism: The New Yorker. Founded in 1925 by Harold Ross, it has become the crème de la crème in the English language writing sphere. A subscription has enabled me to access their archives. They email me links to short stories by Hemingway et al that were published back then, as well as contemporary criticism of those stories. They provide us insight into how the work was received in the context of that time.

Of course, other sites (written by mere mortals) abound, offering short fiction, and inspiration, and tips on writing craft. Most writers (and readers) will already have go-to sites, many authored by a variety of writing magazines.

Here, a short list of some very useful and enjoyable ones that I have happened upon:

The Literary Hub: http://www.lithub.com

The Marginalian: www.themarginalian.org

Open Culture: http://www.openculture.com: strictly speaking, this is not just about writing but about every creative endeavor humankind pursues.

A film we watch, a book we read, an art exhibition we visit, a conversation with a friend – or an enemy – everything we read and experience feeds our brains and enriches our writing. There’s no telling where the next spark for a story might originate.

Do you have a story to share about the inspiration that led you to write a piece of fiction or non-fiction?


  1. I liked that Debbie. Some good links. I try to avoid subscribing to e-mails (for the reasons you mention), but they do prompt one to read a site. (And of course EVERYONE should subscribe to Pens Around the World!)

    Here are a couple of sites I enjoy dropping in on from time to time.

    This is The Creative Life, Sheryl Garratt’s website: https://thecreativelife.net/

    This is Maria Popova’s The Marginalian (once Brain Pickings): https://www.themarginalian.org/

  2. I was inspired to write my novel by a BBC radio programme. ‘Nightwalk’is a WWII spy thriller.

    In the 50s, the BBC had a programme called Spycatcher, in which head of Special Operations Executive Colonel Buckmaster (or an actor playing him) interrogated people claiming to be refugees from the Nazis. He uncovered a number of German agents. One lady claimed to have walked 400 miles across France to escape. Her story seemed to be cast-iron, until Buckmaster inspected her feet, which should have been calloused; they were as smooth as a baby’s. Exit one fifth columnist.

    My hero walks about 350 miles and duly gets his feet inspected during interrogation in UK.

  3. Excellent, team! Continuing education is everything. You never know when a spark might fly.

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