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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Why Do You Write?

What made you decide to take up writing?

Some of us are born writers, but I freely admit, I wasn't. I fell into this career when I wrote a letter to an editor. I stumbled onto it again when someone at work wanted me to write a very important business letter, and yet again when someone needed an article for a newsletter.

It seemed writing was out to get me. It kept poking at me, trying to pique my interest. I would dabble a bit and then back out. I'm not a writer, I'd say. I'm just helping someone out.

But eventually, I started writing through my own volition. Eventually, it became something I WANTED to do, something I enjoyed.

I love figuring stuff out, whether it's plot, character or world building. I love the exploration part, blazing a trail into unknown territory and being pleasantly surprised when it turns out to be an interesting story.

I've been writing steadily for about three years now, but it was two years ago when I decided to make writing a career. The minute I made that decision, everything changed for me. I had a pure focus and desire to succeed.

Greg was very disappointed. He wanted me to continue as an artist. His thinking was that I shouldn't abandon something I was good at. My thinking was: Oh, cool…a challenge!

I swear, I don't have enough sense to know when to give up. LOL!

It's been a good choice and I've enjoyed the process immensely. I can still remember the moment when I made the conscious decision to write as a career. It's something I savor because it was so real to me. I had no doubt about my course.

I had returned from a writer's camp a month earlier, drained of all brain cells and hope. They skewered me alive, but something was left behind. An ember. It took a solid month of moping when a lightbulb went off and I started seeing the novel I was working on in a new light. I stopped examining it as a writer and I started to read it as a reader. It suddenly made sense.

I was a hurricane after that, rabid and relentless, absorbing all I could. But this time, I had a direction. I had a purpose. It changed me from a dilettante to a true student of the craft.

What about you? Was there any single event in your life that made you sure this was the path for you? What was your turning point? And if you didn't write, what would you do with your life? Be honest. What would you be doing right now if you weren't writing?

Tell me. I really want to know.


Mike Keyton said...

Deep down I knew I wanted to be a writer when a beautiful fourteen year old girl called Ruth Aldiss snuggled up to me in class to read my story about a man who's parachute didn't open.

Mine never has, so far so good.

Then lack of confidence along with other more pressing areas to achieve in took over. When the chance to write with no more excuses finally occurred, I siezed it with relief.
What would I be doing if I didn't write? Drink probably. Either that or reading to end on a positive note.

Kaz Augustin said...

You're not supposed to say it's genetic, but I swear there's an element of it in there. My paternal grandfather was known as a writer (I took my pen-name from him). He even published a small tract on the history of Portuguese Eurasians in Malaysia. Wish I could go back further in family history, but all Eurasians had to destroy their papers and pretend to be other races during WWII or the Japanese would have killed them (one of several forgotten genocides).

Anyway, his children ended up as people who, if not professional writers, were certainly extremely comfortable with writing.

I find it interesting that our son, B, creates his own comic books and newspapers, with absolutely no encouragement from me. I know there's more to the whole question than just genetics, but it's really one factor that's difficult to disregard.

Maria Zannini said...

Mike: I think a lot of people wait until they have more time to dive in. Writing, both the act of learning and practice is extremely time consumptive. We have families to raise, jobs to work, life to live, but I think it's those experiences that make for richer narrative.

I know a lot of hot young writers, but they're not nearly as evocative as more seasoned writers, even if those writers hadn't been practicing their craft as long.

Ref: drinking
LOL! Well, a lot of famous writers did that too, so you are consistent.

Maria Zannini said...

Kaz: Genetics do seem to play a part at times though.

I don't have anyone in my family who was ever a writer or an artist. I'm the first in at least the last four generations. This might account for my parents utter disregard and sometimes abhorrance of my interests.

My parents often discouraged my creative pursuits, which is sad. They did it with good intentions though. They wanted me to have a career in something financially stable.

I think it's neat that your son will create comic books and newspapers on his own. I was the very same way--and look what happened to me. LOL! Quick, get B into law school. :o)

rcloenen-ruiz said...

My mom has this scrapbook with the first poem/story I'd dictated to her. I have to smile when I read it. It actually is a real story. Quite short though and very childish.

I think writing is something that's been in our family and I have to say that like Kaz, I wonder if it's genetic. Apparently, one of my greatgranduncles was a writer during the revolution. He was so forgetful he would leave the house with one blue sock and one red sock. My grandma told me that was because he was always thinking about what he would write next. (ha, ha) Okay...I recognize myself in that image (but my socks do match).

I have an aunt who wrote a very intellectual book and published in Canada. After she retired she was asked to be Canada's ambassador of peace.

Another aunt is an award-winning scriptwriter, and another aunt is an award-winning inspirational writer.

I've got a lot to live up to. So when they ask me what I write...I'm like...well...I got published in the UK and I have a story coming out in the US. He, he.

I should get to work and finish that wip. I just keep getting sidetracked.

On a side note: I hope you got my email telling you I'd got the interview. I'll let you know when it goes up.

Maria Zannini said...

Rochita: Wow! Man, you are loaded with writers. Does it make it more stressful to live up to their standards?

I think it's neat that your mother kept your work. Do you do that with your children?

PS I did get your email. Shoot! I thought I emailed you back. I'll check it when I get home from work.

J.K. Coi said...

Hey Maria, I'm glad you "fell" into this writing thing. It looks good on you :)

I wouldn't say that it happened to me that way. I've been writing in one form or another since I was a kid, and I always liked to make up stories and poetry. I just finally decided to sit back and make the time to do it seriously.

Maria Zannini said...

JK: What you said was key. You "made" the time. It was a conscious decision.

I am beginning to see a pattern here. :o)

Kaz Augustin said...

I didn't say it earlier, but it's a great topic, btw. Very interesting answers! :)

Maria Zannini said...

I'm always intrigued by how different yet how the same we are.

Heather B. Moore said...

My dad writes a lot of non-fiction and both of my parents are avid readers. I think I just fell in love with the written word, not realizing that someday I'd become a writer. I started writing my first novel at the age of 33. Several things happened in a short period of time: my husband moved into an office outside our home, so I had a full office available; I read a book by a local author that inspired me; and I was writing my grandmother's biography when the first line of a novel popped into my head. If I wasn't writing books or editing, I'd probably be trying to get an MBA through online courses or something.

Maria Zannini said...

Heather: Sounds like you're covered by both nurture and nature. :o)

I think one of the things that pushed me into career writing was having a quiet house all to myself, so I definitely understand the lure of a nice office.

Tia Nevitt said...

A young Irish nun named Sr. Clair was my fifth and sixth grade teacher, and she planted the seed. We were always having to make up stories and poems. I moved on to writing poems on my own. I don't write much poetry these days, but I sure write a lot of other stuff.

Just something I like doing, I guess. And I like that storytelling thing, too.

Maria Zannini said...

Tia: God bless teachers everywhere. Where would we be without them?

Sister Aloysius taught me English. And Miss Axley taught me to write a proper sentence. But my dad taught me the value of story telling. I needed all of them.