Inspiration for my stories comes from many different places. Sometimes it’s an observation made in a crowded restaurant. It may be from a photo prompt or from a family story. Other times, ideas just pop in my head. But often, it’s songs from favorite groups or singers.
John Denver’s music inspired some of my early works. Years ago, I used to write a First Friday Fiction post, and the idea for one of those stories came from the words of “Rocky Mountain High.”
For the anthology, Bright Lights and Candle Glow, I wrote a story titled Montana Christmas. Once again, a John Denver song, “Christmas For Cowboys” inspired me.
I recently completed the first draft of a short story titled Summerwood. The title came from the name of a housing addition I pass each day while driving to work. The original story was a flash fiction piece featuring a road-weary rock star. I published the story in 2020 with the intention of expanding it.
Here’s an unedited excerpt:
You can do this. One more night. You’re almost there. You can do this.
That had been Dylan’s mantra for the last month. The grueling schedule of forty-two appearances in a sixty-day period was taking its toll. Two more weeks and the tour was done. If he could only hold out until Memorial Day.
At thirty-two years old, he was still young, but he felt more like sixty-two. Was it any wonder many singers turned to alcohol or drugs to cope with life on the road?
He swore long ago that would never be him. He’d quit the business before he allowed it to happen.
I wrote a few scenes, but something seemed amiss, so I put the story aside. I picked it up again a few weeks later, determined to finish by the end of November. But even as I wrote the final two scenes, I still sensed something wasn’t right. Even with all that work, I was ready to shelve the project indefinitely.
As I sat at my computer, I looked out my window to the woods surrounding our house. The fall colors had faded and most of the trees were bare. But as I sat there, I thought of how much I love the outdoors, the changing seasons, nature, and wildlife.
And the words of a John Denver song came to mind. It’s not one of his big hits but comes from the Rocky Mountain High album. “Summer” talks about his love of life—the life within him and the life around him.
And that’s when it hit me. I didn’t need my main character to be a rock star. A country rock or folk singer fits the story much better. I finished that draft with a renewed purpose.
Summerwood is one of the stories I plan to include in a collection of shorts to be published sometime next year.
Here’s a video of John singing a song that I first heard on his 1975 television special, A Rocky Mountain Christmas.
Thank you, John Denver.