Why do you write?

Four of the women I know from the Compuserve Books and Writers Forum have started a joint blog called All The World’s Our Page. It’s joint venture across continents: two of the contributors are Australian, the other two American. Four like-minded people coming together from totally different parts of the world appeals to me, so I’ve added them to my reader.

Their initial posts explore the question of why each of them writes, and reading their answers got me thinking about my own. It’s not something I think about very often, because writing is just what I do. I can’t imagine not doing it, can’t fathom ignoring the stories that bubble up in my head or missing out on the rush that comes with putting together a sentence that feels just right.

I’ve always written, in one form or another. I can’t remember a time when it wasn’t part of who I am, though it’s been channelled in different ways at different times in my life. When I was nine or ten, I won ribbons for poetry. Around that time, I got hooked on Anne of Green Gables and its sequels, and dreamed of writing that well. Anne’s vividness inspired me, as my love for those books still does. When I was a teenager, I penned really awful romantic short stories. As an adult, my writing energies went into teaching others to put coherent sentences together in my role as a high school English teacher. The stories still brewed in my mind, though I did little more than play with them here and there.

The decision to stop dabbling and get serious about writing came suddenly. The morning of my 30th birthday, my husband woke me up to come and see the news. Planes had just flown into the World Trade Centre and North America was in shock. For me, the double whammy of a milestone birthday and that violent reminder that life is short was the push I needed to put my butt in a chair and write. Every day. I joined the forum immediately after that and began learning about the craft. And I wrote. I wrote while my child slept, while her dad took her out to have fun without me, and whenever I could carve out a few minutes.

Since then, I’ve written an ‘under the bed’ book that probably will never see the light of day, completed a manuscript that’s had good feedback but hasn’t found a home yet, and am about a third of the way into my new MS, a story that’s a big challenge to write but is really exciting, too. I keep writing every day, even if some days it’s not working and in the end all I write is an email to a friend. So really, I suppose the short answer to the subject of this post, if I need one other than “Because I can’t not write” is “Because of LM Montgomery and Al-Qaeda.” Bet you’ve never seen those two in the same sentence before. 🙂

LM Montgomery's writing desk at the site of her home in Cavendish, PEI

LM Montgomery's writing desk at the site of her home in Cavendish, PEI

2009-10-14T17:06:12-07:00

10 Comments

  1. Kristen October 14, 2009 at 5:21 pm - Reply

    Hi Kathy,

    Thanks for stopping by our way. Great post as well. I love Anne of Green Gables -along with that old mini series they used to put on PBS!

    Kristen

    • Kathy October 14, 2009 at 5:50 pm - Reply

      Kristen,

      I loved the casting of the PBS series. It was perfect. The very strange, unrelated-to-the-books part III of that series, though? What was that about?

  2. Claire Gregory October 14, 2009 at 5:29 pm - Reply

    LM Montgomery and the Taliban? That is without a doubt a very awesome answer to that question 🙂

    Both of those have had an influence on my writing, too- Anne of Green Gables had the same effect on me. I think it might have been the first set of books I ever read that made me cry real tears because I cared so much about the people.

    And my writing really kicked up a gear after 9/11. That and the ensuing wars are some of the many conflicts I’m trying to understand through my writing.

    Great post! I’ve been reading your blog lately and enjoying it very much 🙂

    • Kathy October 14, 2009 at 5:52 pm - Reply

      Thanks, Claire. 🙂 I’m glad you’ve been enjoying the blog. I cried, too, reading Anne. And I still remember them all as if they were real people, which is pretty amazing when I think about how many books I’ve probably read since.

  3. Jen Hendren October 14, 2009 at 7:21 pm - Reply

    Hey Kathy,

    Thanks so much for stopping by our page! It’s really difficult to nail down, isn’t it — the reason we write? It’s one of those…givens. And trying to explain WHY is just so dang difficult.

    I have to admit — Get ready for a shock — I don’t know if I’ve ever read Anne of Green Gables. *hides her face in shame* No excuse for it — but I will be adding it to the towering tbr pile. 🙂

    Jen

  4. Rachel October 14, 2009 at 8:56 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the shout-out, Kathy. Great to have you stopping by.

    I’ve never read Anne of Green Gables (I think I was too busy reading Stephen King! LOL) but 9/11 as an influence, I can totally understand. I was 30 that year, too; and here in Australia, I woke up on September 12th, ready to celebrate my son’s first birthday, only to see the news reports of what had happened in New York while we slept …

    A very sad, sobering moment; I’m glad something positive came out of it for you.

    • Kathy October 15, 2009 at 9:24 am - Reply

      Jen and Rachel… you haven’t read Anne?! I don’t know what those books would be like reading them for the first time as an adult, but I hope you’ll find at least some of the magic in them still. Like Pam, I’ve read them over and over. They’re comfort books.

  5. A Novel Woman October 15, 2009 at 9:09 am - Reply

    Oh, I loved Anne, and Marilla, and Matthew (tear) and even Rachel Lynde. I’ve read them dozens of times, including during exam time in university just to calm my nerves (along with the Narnia books) so I hear ya, sistah.

    • Kathy October 15, 2009 at 9:25 am - Reply

      I _knew_ you were a kindred spirit. *s*

  6. […] It’s also my birthday. That 9/11 was my thirtieth birthday. I’ve written a little about that before, here. […]

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