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Guest post from Layla Writers: What inspires me by J. Arlene Culiner

What inspires me as a writer? Absurdity. I love it. Silliness and bad behavior are equally delightful. Why? Because those are the things I need when creating pesky secondary characters or when I want to inject a little comic relief. The obnoxious woman in the supermarket this morning — the one who was picking up vegetables and ripping off bits she didn’t want as though she were in her own kitchen (I did tell her that her behavior was unacceptable and she went off in a huff) — or the neighbor who washes down the road in front of his house with cleansing fluid and a mop are grist for my writer’s mill. They’ll find their way into one of my stories, and won’t I be pleased.

What else inspires me? Catching secret moments. I’ll never forget the day I saw a man and woman separate on a busy street. There was nothing special about either, just pleasant, average-looking folk. But as they went their separate ways, they kept turning, looking back at each other with complicity, love, and pure delight. How could I not feel envious? Anyone would. They’ve found their way into my stories, too.

Here’s something else that inspires me: the memory of a place. Perhaps it’s a mediocre sort of landscape, one I didn’t like much while there, but in memory, it takes on a sheen of its own. It has an odor, a particular color, and a certain resonance. And it becomes, in a story, a setting with a life of its own, perhaps mysterious, or threatening, even perfectly lovely.

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