Friday, May 6, 2011
Girlfriends Reveal Why We Write
Love of Reading
I write because I love to read. I have always loved to read. One of my very first memories is of some white alphabet flashcards - they were magical. There is nothing better than making magic.
I also write because no one will pay me to sit around and read. Sadly.
Inspiration From Others
I'd always had a creative outlet and I'd dabbled in writing as a kid -- putting on my own plays in the backyard and publishing a homemade magazine for a total of four subscribers. As an adult I switched gears and put most of my energies into songwriting and being a musician. But when I started a job as a technical writer in the 1990s I found myself surrounded by a bunch of frustrated fiction writers who paid the bills by writing summaries of articles from computer magazines for a database company. These writers inspired me to start writing fiction, and I decided to take a creative writing course at a community college. We had to write three short stories in a semester. Having that deadline and the inspiration from my co-workers set me on my path to becoming a novelist.
I'd have to say what prompted me to write was my unabashed love of books. I read like a maniac as a child, devouring whatever my mother put in front of me, ordering incessantly from the Scholastic Book Club, and using my library card like an addict. I simply loved words. When I first put my fat pencil to page on a Big Chief tablet, I realized how magical it was to create my own stories. Apparently, I did that a lot (as the amount of stories my mom keeps digging out of boxes in her basement will attest). I wrote three books in fifth grade, one a Nancy Drew wannabe called THE SECRET OF THE FORBIDDEN TEMPLE, another about crime-solving kids titled THE ADVENTURE SEEKERS, and a third about two monster friends in Monsterville called HARRY AND IMPY. I scribbled in diaries, thrived on essay tests in school, and ultimately realized while transferring from UT-Austin to the University of Kansas that I wanted to write a book. A real, grown-up book. I took off a year, researched the Civil War era (one of my faves) and came up with a 600+ page historical romance, THE THORN OF THE ROSE, which I submitted to agents and editors enthusiastically. My rejection letters were so encouraging (some even asking to see a revision) that, at 19, I knew what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. Post college, I wrote 10 manuscripts in various genres before I was published. Now I've penned 12 novels under contract (with two more due this year!), and I can't imagine doing anything else. Heck, I can't imagine thinking of myself as anything else but a writer.
On a Dare
This is a hard question to answer because on the one hand, I always knew I was going to be a writer. From the time I was a little girl and realized that on the other side of the books I loved and lost myself in there was a person who got to write them. A person who got to create worlds that I could embrace and inhabit and return to anytime I wanted just by turning a page. I decided right then I was going to write. I filled notebooks and journals. I worked out stories in my head. The only thing lacking to becoming a writer was the discipline and time. But, planning to be a writer is different than writing. For that, I have to thank a dear friend for one specific comment made while we sat on my front porch, drinking wine and talking late into the night. Once again I was saying that I always wanted to write a novel. She got very quiet and then said, "So do it." 8 weeks later I had the first draft of what would eventually become ALL THE NUMBERS.
So it was forty years of dreaming and one very specific moment.
Taking the Leap
I decided to write when I had my second child. I realized my life was only going to get busier! Naptime became my writing time. It took a looong time to write that first book. Writing was a life-long dream for me that I kept putting off. When I actually started writing it was a huge relief. I was finally able to get all those ideas down on paper. Those ideas keep coming and I keep writing them down. So glad I made the leap from dreaming to actually writing!
Writing is Everything
I eat, drink and sleep words. If I could see my soul, I'm certain it has the word "writer" engraved upon it. I can barely recall a time I haven't written. I began writing stories in elementary school and I've rarely gone a day without writing something. In high school, I was the editor of the school paper, then worked in broadcast (and wrote and produced a high school talk show), and was a journalism "McMahon scholar" in college and then wrote for TV. It was a novel writing class in college that hooked me back into my first love - fiction writing. After years of trying to finish a novel in my twenties, I succeeded before I hit thirty and had my first novel published when I was thirty-two. Writing is my therapy, my soul song, my friend. It helps me understand the world and appreciate my life. What could be better?
Writing Comes Naturally
Aside from the fact I suck at math, what made me write? Well, it's always been what came naturally to me. But my writing got tucked away for a long time when I had children. And then several years ago, during yet another economic downturn, I needed to start earning some money. And I crazily thought writing would do it! ha! But seriously...Our state was suffering from a terrible drought several years ago. It had gotten bad enough that our water allotments were cut in half. I was in the shower about six weeks before Christmas, collecting spare water in buckets beneath me, turning the water on and off each time I needed to rinse, saving the water from buckets to help flush toilets. And then it dawned on me: the holidays were coming up, and no one would host Christmas parties because you couldn't invite a slew of people to your house, ply them with drinks all night, then not let them use the bathroom! And you couldn't afford to waste your water allotment on hundreds of flushes! So I got out of the shower and sat down and wrote a funny commentary about it that I sold to a local paper and voila, in about 40 minutes time I had gotten the bug again. I've been doing lots of commentaries and essays over the years for newspapers and radio, have had them on NPR and NPR affiliates, and I have an opinion column in our local paper. And of course I write books. So it was a great way to get me back into writing again.
On the Back Burner
It was something I'd been wanting to do for 20 years, so it was time.
Girlfriend News The Sisters 8 Book 7 Rebecca's Rashness by Lauren Baraz-Logsted released this week.
Theresa Fowler’s Exposure is also out this week.