Ghostly Inspiration

Girl on Writing

by Elizabeth Conte

“I see dead people.”

Well, maybe they aren’t “dead people” but they aren’t alive either. They are people about whom I write about. They are my characters who live, not in this world, but somewhere in between.

Some call it an imagination. But not me. I never really thought of myself as a person who could make up things that were interesting or exciting. My Uncle Sal did. As I, and my five other siblings, would sit around the table (because that is where Italians always are…around the table, involving lots and lots of food), we would be captivated by Uncle Sal’s adventures of life, observations, and imagination weaved together in spellbinding tales. His tone and pitch, along with his exuberant facial expressions made each adventure come alive right before us. He had the unique gift of telling stories, captivating anyone who was in earshot. He was truly a storyteller.

I was a reader, not a teller.

I never thought of myself as a storyteller. I looked to others, mostly in books, to set my imagination on fire. So, what am I doing writing novels?

Writers get their inspiration from multiple places. A news article might set off the creative juices, or perhaps a book. Maybe it’s a lost journal, or just real life. There is no right or wrong on how or why a writer is inspired. In fact, according to an article in, Joseph Epstein is quoted, “81 percent of Americans feel that they have a book in them-and should write it.” So, am I just one of the 200 million people who “should” write?

Well, the answer is yes and no. Yes, everyone should write if they think they have a story to tell. As Brett Arends says in Forbes, “The good news is, anyone can do this.”

Everyone can write, but should they?

The real answer is not everyone has a story to tell that others want to hear, or a story that needs to be told. I don’t know how many times, when I say I am a writer, that I am told, “I have always wanted to write.” Or, something to imply that what I do is a dime a dozen and everyone can do it…they just haven’t gotten around to it.

Everyone can write. Not everyone should write. Not everyone is a storyteller. That truly is an art, takes great craft, and demands creativity beyond just writing down words.

So, do I have it? Do I have what it takes to captivate readers? Do I have the gift of storytelling?

Did I mention I see dead people?

Yeah, that’s just it. I don’t think of myself as a storyteller. But I write stories. Three novels, in fact, with a line-up of a dozen more. I have stories waiting to happen. Happen. You see, my stories come from a place I don’t understand. There are people — characters — that walk around me, who tell me what they are doing, how they feel, what is happening to them. They literally are talking to me all the time. “Write this,” they say. “Say that,” they tell me. They are people, in ghostly form, who want their stories to be told. Only, it is I who does the crafting. They show me, speak the words, and I write it down.

Honestly, I’m not really sure where my stories are coming from. The people I write about are not anyone I know. I’m not writing about Aunt Edna and changing the name to protect the innocent. I’m not writing an expose on how I made love to a Scotsman…because I never have. (Well, except for my husband who is part Scottish.) My stories about this world, are not of this world. The people in them are from another place and time that are roaming this earth only to find someone like me to tell their story. You can call it my imagination, or being creative. I am not sure I need to label it, or explain it. But whatever it is…

I am a storyteller!


Elizabeth Conte

Elizabeth Conte

When I am not writing books, tormented with poetry, or inspiring others with my blog at, you can find some of my work published in Lost Coast Review and PennWriters, and I am a regular editor/contributor to Industry News for Women’s Fiction Writers Association (WFWA).

2 thoughts on “Ghostly Inspiration

  1. Isn’t there always someone in any family that says the greatest stories? Uncles, like grandparents are usually the folks that first say: “I remember the time, that…”

    My grandfather was a great storyteller. When I drove around in old Ford truck, he would share his experiences with. I could not wait to get in that truck because that was his sanctuary. He loved that truck, and so did I because it was sort of a like time machine.

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