November 30, 2009

The Inspiration to Write: Author Djuanna Brockington

The Writer

Djuanna Brockington has been writing fiction and creative non-fiction for four years. These days she's either writing, thinking about writing, reading books and blogs about writing, or beating herself up for not writing.

Her short fiction can be found on her website Diva Fiction Bytes. She has also written an e-book entitled "Home Alone: When Your Office Doubles as Your Guest Room," and she is working on a series of novellas for e-publishing in the very near future.

You can learn more about Djuanna by checking her out on Twitter and Facebook.


What inspires you to write?
Initially, it was hard for me to pin down what inspires me to write. I turned the concept over in my mind for days and came up with nothing. That was because I was looking for the pat answer-the thing that would sound all lofty and scholarly. And since that is so not me, I hit a mental wall. When I got real with myself, I realized that I’m inspired by the desire to create funny stories with smart characters that lead interesting lives, and yet are highly relatable. Like my unnamed main character in The Date-my very first short story. She’s self-employed, a catch in her own right, exhausted from finishing up a three week project, and yet she goes on a blind date at the insistence of her best friend. Bad date ensues. Just like millions of women around the world.

Where do you find inspiration to create your stories?
I most frequently get inspired by the antics of my family and friends. Things that happen to other people always seem way more interesting than the stuff happening in my life. I’m always asking myself the question: “What if things had gone this way or that, instead of the way they’ve actually played out?” I’m sort of never satisfied with what is. I’ve got to make it into something else. Which is good, because by the time I’m done with a story, the original subject can’t recognize him/herself. You keep your friends that way.

When I’m not pilfering from the life happenings of folks I know, I’m wondering about the “back story” of famous folks. You know, the road they traveled to their particular version of success, some of their trials and tribulations, and of course, triumphs. Not in a paparazzi/stalkerish kind of way, but more like an objective observer. Who is probably going to use an obscure incident and create an entire story around it.

Probably the biggest inspiration for me is emotion. When I’m happy, I start thinking about happy storylines that I can write. When I’m in pain, I wondering how I can use that as well. Besides telling a good story, I’ve always believed that part of a writer’s job is to evoke emotion (whether it’s for a character’s circumstance or because of a character’s behavior). The challenge is to write in a way that genuine and not a trivialization of emotion. Sometimes it can be hard to do, but damn awesome when I pull it off. My flash fiction A Little Help From My Friends was all about the emotion.

Most of all, though, I am inspired to write because leaving my stories untold just feels wrong.

A Taste of Fiction

Brockington's A Little Help from My Friends...

Friends often swear that they will always be there for one another, that the bonds of friendship will last through thick and through thin. In Jenna’s case, it was actually sick and sin. She was about to put her friendships to the ultimate test. She was sick, and she needed them to help her commit a sin.

“I want you both to help me commit suicide.” She slowly looked up from her penne pasta and Italian sausage. What she saw was shock on the faces of the two women who meant the most to her in the world.

Alice put her fork down and absorbed the silence while Rita audibly gasped.

“My cancer is back. And it’s spreading like a motherfucka. I can’t do the chemo and the radiation again. It was horrible. Besides, the cancer’s so bad, it would probably be of little use. I’ve decided it’s time for me to call it quits. I want you guys to help me. Correction. I NEED you guys to help me. I’m afraid I’ll back out at the last minute. And this is truly what I want.”

Seconds stretched into minutes. Rita finally found her voice, and though she spoke in a quiet tone, the anger was unmistakable. “You bring us to this posh restaurant to tell us that you want us to help you kill yourself. Did you think we would behave ourselves? No scenes, right? Because Jenna The Control Freak can’t stand scenes. I can’t believe this. You did not just ask me to help you die!”

“Rita, please. I didn’t know how else to tell you. I found out last week at my annual check up. Remission was nice while it lasted, but it’s over for me. The results are pretty clear.”

Alice remained silent, yet tears streamed down her face. She twisted the napkin in her hands, which caused her knuckles to whiten.

Rita’s eyes were dry, but her face was contorted. The pain was evident. “What does your husband have to say about this? Why didn’t you ask him to kill you?” Her voice catches in her throat as reality sunk in on a physical level.

“Alex doesn’t know. And he would never agree to it anyway. He’s not strong enough to let me go on his own. I’m all he has left. We don’t have children. His parents are gone. He has no sisters or brothers to see him through this. There is no way in hell he will agree to help me. You guys are it. And I need you now, more than ever. Besides, we talked about this the first time I got sick, and you both agreed that you would do whatever it takes to see me through this. Well, it’s going to take you helping me commit suicide.”

Jenna’s facade of strength started to slip away. She looked like she was about to collapse in on herself. It was then that her friends can see her frailty. She was sick, and had been for some time.

“I’ll help you.” Alice’s voice was small but determined. She repeated herself. “I’ll help you, Jenna. And so will Rita.” She reached across the table and grabbed a hand from each friend. Time slowed enough for them to absorb one another’s strength and determination, and to start to say “goodbye” in silence.


Love2Write said...

Great, quick, emotional story. Love the leading line.

Southern Diva said...

Thanks Trina.