Rubens and IWSG

It’s the first Wednesday of the month again, time for a post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.

This month, I’m proud to announce that I’m co-hosting the IWSG blog hop, together with the three other wonderful writers: Chemist Ken, Tamara Narayan, and Jennifer Hawes.

OPTIONAL OCTOBER QUESTION: Have you ever slipped any of your personal information into your characters, either by accident or on purpose?

MY ANSWER: Yes. Bits and pieces of my life and my conversations with others often find their way into my fiction. Usually, it happens on purpose. For example, a few years ago I was working on a novel. I visited my sister at that time and asked her: what would you do in a situation such and such. I gave her answer, almost verbatim, to one of my characters.

Sometimes, I don’t ask. I talk to people, and something they say sticks to my memory. I might use it years later for one of my characters. The original person might not even remember he or she said that. It was in passing, in conversation, and none of us remembers what we said years ago while chatting with a friend or a relative.

I think all writers steal colorful phrases or unusual situations from their real life once in a while. It is too rich a source to pass by.

Today is the day of the Show Us Your Writer Insecurity contest (read the full description of the contest’s rules and prizes here). Each of us is supposed to post a picture of him or her (or their avatar) with the IWSG visual representation: a badge or some swag.

As a co-host,  can’t wait to see the others’ photos, but for myself, I decided to create a composite of my avatar in front of the IWSG badge. Now, my avatar is not my photo. It’s a painting by Peter Paul Rubens: Lady-in-waiting to Infanta Isabella, currently the property of the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. Here is what the Hermitage website says about this painting.

I imagine that if Rubens could travel through time and learned about the internet, he would’ve definitely discovered IWSG, and his charming redheaded girl might have looked like this:

Don’t you think he would’ve approved of my composition?









This entry was posted in art, Insecure Writer's Support Group, Olga Godim and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

55 Responses to Rubens and IWSG

  1. Jennifer Hawes says:

    I’m laughing because I’ve done the same thing. Oh my! Do our characters get in our heads or what?? Thanks for co-hosting today!

  2. Loni Townsend says:

    Nice mash-up of pictures!

    That’s cool you’re able to pull inspiration from your interactions. I think I’m too much of a recluse to get any good dialogue fodder.

  3. I like your photo!
    I don’t even remember what I said, let alone what someone else said. Impressive.
    Thanks for co-hosting today.

  4. Life is definitely too rich of a source not to “steal” from. Love your IWSG photo!

  5. Megan Morgan says:

    Great picture! And I steal “words” from people all the time! Everyone is much more clever than me, after all. 😉

  6. Carrie-Anne says:

    Nice work on the image!

    I draw inspiration from real life all the time. Through the years, I’ve realized the importance of not basing things or characters TOO closely on real life. If it’s too close, it can feel forced and awkward instead of a natural aspect of the story or characters.

  7. I think–as writers–are friends must beware. We have license to use anything we experience in our novels. Just as we’re allowed to make up words–be neologists. I love that part.

  8. Lovely picture! How’s it going with your Regency romance project? And yes, I harvest interesting conversations overheard in public as well as quotes from friends and coworkers. Doesn’t everybody?

  9. I regularly draw on what people have said to me, or even just the sounds of accents or idiosyncratic phrases. One of the key skills for a writer is to pay attention to the world around us, which is something that I try to do!

  10. emaginette says:

    Sometimes how someone speaks or their go-to phrase is too hard to resist. I’m guilty too. hehehe

    Anna from elements of emaginette

  11. Misha says:

    Nicely done with the painting mash-up. ^_^

  12. I approve of your composition, Olga. Haha, I know, it’s not the same thing as from the man himself. Thanks for co-hosting. Enjoyed your post.

  13. S.E. White says:

    Thank you for co-hosting! I’m glad I discovered your blog.

  14. Kathy says:

    The photo mashup is impressive. Curious as to the process by which you created it. Glad to hear I’m not the only one who steals from real life conversations to add spice to my fictitious worlds. Thanks for the post. 🙂

  15. diedre says:

    What a novel idea – love your meme! Yep, I’m guilty too, of borrowing bits and pieces of everything I see and hear to line the nests of stories in which my characters evolve.

  16. Elsie says:

    I love what you did with the picture! I love to people watch so I’m sure that bleeds into my writing. Thank you for co-hosting!

    Enjoy the rest of your week!

  17. Lee says:

    I also jot down snippets of conversation or odd remarks to work into dialogue. It is a great way to add authenticity to a character. Thanks for co-hosting today!

  18. spunkonastick says:

    That is the perfect image for you!

  19. Fun photo mash-up! I enjoy seeing the pics people are entering in the contest. 🙂

  20. patgarcia says:

    I often find myself picking up certain phrases when speaking with a person. Something they say ignite an emotion within me and I usually bow out of the conversation quickly so I can write.
    Thank you for co-hosting today.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G @ EverythingMustChange

  21. Great photo!
    I also take advantage of every day life and bits and pieces of sayings that I will add to my stories when the occasion arises.

    Thank you for co-hosting this month!

  22. Nancy Gideon says:

    Love the badge juxtaposition! Separating what we absorb as creative sponging from ourselves is an impossible task. We are the world around us. Thanks for hosting today!!

  23. I like the photo. Good idea. 🙂

  24. Awesome mash up, and great post! I’m similar. When I write my characters in my image its usually on purpose. Thanks for co-hosting!

  25. Diane Burton says:

    Thanks for co-hosting, Olga. Love the picture. Of course, our opinions, characteristics, etc. appear in our characters. Hard not to. But then they change and become their own person.

  26. A. B. Keuser says:

    I’d need a tape recorder, or to say “hang on a sec” pull out my phone and jot things down to get conversations into my own writing!

  27. Toi Thomas says:

    Thanks for co-hosting this month. I love your composition. What a clever idea!

  28. brandonax says:

    Oh yes we are all thieves. I think that is just how we process what we see, feel and think. We write it down.

    • Olga Godim says:

      I usually reciprocate comments, but I can’t in this case. Sorry. The link only takes me to your gravatar page. No blog URL, no website, not even your author’s name. I can’t find you, but thanks for your comment anyway.

  29. chemistken says:

    I’ve stolen a few quotes from people over the years. As long as I don’t think they’ll realize I stole it from them, I feel free to use them in my stories. Good writers borrow. Great writers steal.

  30. Deb says:

    Awesome picture lol. I approve, anyway!

    I do slip a little of myself into my characters. It helps me relate to them. I carve away me to make room for them as their own person in revisions.

  31. Olga Godim says:

    Thanks, everyone, for visiting and commenting.

  32. Joey says:

    I think all the best writers are keen observers of the world around them. I hope I occasionally say something interesting enough to make it into someone’s story!

  33. Rebecca Douglass says:

    I definitely find myself mentally turning all sorts of incidents and conversations into things for my stories, and asking myself where such and thus might fit into a book, or who would be likely to say that!

    Thanks for co-hosting!
    My IWSG Post

  34. I didn’t think about how I put other people in my writing, but yes, I do steal their conversations and personalities for in my writing.

  35. Renee says:

    I use stuff from real life as well. I think you kinda can’t help it. Love the image you made. 😀

  36. jenlanebooks says:

    I love Rubenesque beauties!

    It’s been fun to hear about the different ways we all insert ourselves into our stories–I have totally used snippets of conversations and events from friends and family. Two of my gay friends are so hilarious that they give me great material!

  37. Sharon Himsl says:

    Hi. I eaves drop all the time, listening to people I don’t know. People standing in line at the store, in the restaurant, just about anywhere. Especially teens since I write young adult. Oops, Missed the part about finding an avatar. I like your choice . Thanks for hosting.

  38. mlouisebarbourfundyblue says:

    Thanks for co-hosting, Olga! Your photo turned out great! I listen to conversations all the time, just getting a feel for how various people talk. Take care!

  39. Erika Beebe says:

    Hi Olga. I think he would definitely approve. The collar is lovely. The frame is too. I have interviewed others as well for writing but your post has convinced me to do it more frequently. 🙂 Thank you! And thank you for volunteering this month to be a cohost. 🙂

  40. Angela Wooldridge says:

    I still have some great quotes from people saved to use at some point!

  41. Victoria Marie Lees says:

    I love your IWSG composition, picture with swag. Bravo! I overhear conversation and pay attention to what’s going on around me and use snippets in my stories as well. I never thought to actually ask someone what they think of a particular situation in my story, other than my children of course.

    Thanks for co-hosting the October question for IWSG. All best to you.

  42. Liesbet says:

    Great interpretation of the photo/swag theme. I think Rubens would approve, although the IWSG font might have to be a bit more voluptuous. 🙂

    If I were to write fiction, I would constantly add elements of my own life in it and I would take notes of everything interesting, funny, extraordinary anyone says. It’s good I don’t write fiction… I would be taking notes and sitting behind my computer even more than now…

  43. I also think writers can’t help but put parts of themselves into their characters.
    Love the Rubens pic

  44. That is a great ‘painting’! Well done!
    Thanks for co-hosting!
    Thanks for participating!
    Heather M. Gardner

  45. Glad to see that others snag wisdom from our experiences in the world – people we talk to, overheard conversations, etc. We can’t help but be observers. Thank you for co-hosting this month!

  46. cheriereich says:

    Yes, we take in so much around us, that it’s probably impossible not to use some of it at one time or another in our writing. And I think he should approve of your composition!

  47. So agree with you that we add things from experiences we’ve had and people we are close to. Part of our job is to be good observers so it’s not a surprise that it seeps into our writing. Awesome how something your sister and you discussed made it into your story.

  48. I definitely use bits and pieces from my life in stories. Sometimes it’s just a name and I pick it because it’s faster than thinking up a name. That’s usually for minor, one scene characters, though.

  49. There are many colorful phrases and unusual situations from real life that writers can use in their stories! It would be foolish to pass them by.
    Thanks for co-hosting the IWSG this month, Olga! 🙂

  50. Lisa says:

    Yes! Of course he would have liked it! I too, feel life has too many good things to not use them. Life, stranger than fiction. Thanks for dropping by!

  51. doreenb8 says:

    Ha! I always have a little notebook to write down interesting phrases, quotes etc…
    I love the photo! Thank you for hosting this month.

  52. J.Q. Rose says:

    Hi Olga, love that picture! Wish I knew how to do something like that. Maybe some day. Our lives are definitely a “rich” resource for our stories. Sorry I’m late in replying–been packing and traveling and unpacking….Thanks for co hosting this month!
    JQ Rose

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