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Follow Raymond Carver’s example to find story ideas

If you’re looking for a writing topic, do what poet and short story writer Raymond Carver did.

Carver wrote about people and situations that made a lasting emotional impression on him.

In an interview with Nicholas O’Connell for the book, At the Field’s End: Interviews With 22 Pacific Northwest Writers, published in 1987, Carver said the stories and poems he’d written were not autobiographical but have a starting point in the real world.

“Stories don’t just come out of thin air; they come from someplace, a wedding of imagination and reality, a little autobiography and a lot of imagination,” Carver said in the interview.

Carver’s exposure to small town life growing up in Yakima, Wash., and living with the “underclass,” gave him the insight to write the stories he wrote. Carver said these people were his relatives and people he grew up with and felt kinship with.

“The stories have taken a particular turn or are cast in a particular way because I know what I’m writing about; in that I’m no different than any author whose work you might admire,” Carver said. “What you look for in a writer is someone writing with authority about his subject; you want to feel you can trust him, and put yourself in his hands, so to speak, and go with it.”

Among his short story collections are, Will You Please Be Quiet, Please?, What We Talk About When We Talk About Love, Cathedral, Where I’m Calling From, and Fires: Essays, Poems, Stories.

What people, events, and situations in your life make a lasting emotional impression?

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