One of the questions I get asked most—preceded by “Where do you get your story ideas?” and followed by “How do I get published?”— is, “Why do you write?” I’m always a bit confounded at this question. Why? My immediate answer is, “Why not?” The last time I was asked, I decided it was time to really delve into the why of things. What emerged was an introspective look into how a writer’s mind works.
A very dear friend of mine had the great honor of peripherally knowing Katherine Hepburn. My friend wanted to act, and the fact was relayed to Ms. Hepburn, informally known to friends and family as “Kate.” She approached my friend and, in a nutshell, told her that she should abandon the idea of acting unless she could do nothing but act. Unless it was the air she breathed, it would consume her and drive her to the brink of madness.
Writing is my air.
It didn’t used to be this way. In fact, I can distinctly remember when writing was a pipe dream I didn’t have time to pursue. There were a thousand reasons stacked upon a thousand more why I simply didn’t have time to sit in front of the computer every day: work, laundry, meal prep, TV time, books to read, weeds to pull, managing the household, paying bills. All of it was put in front of my writing, prioritized as more important than acknowledging the stories literally begging to be told. Eventually, like all neglected things, the stories grew silent, smothered by the weight of my perceived responsibilities.
What I failed to realize was that, in not writing, I was dishonoring my creativity. I let it stagnate, relegated to a position less important than macaroni and cheese in the daily scheme of things.
Then fate intervened.
The details are highly personal and generally irrelevant, but let me just say I found a great deal of time on my hands. Because I had failed to nurture my creativity for so long, it lay silent. If there were such a thing as fictional life support, my imagination was on it. I literally thank God for my team of caregivers, the ICU (Imagination Caregivers United) team who stepped in and put the charged paddles to my proverbial chest and screamed, “Clear!”
I started to write. It hurt. Man, did it hurt. Every word was like pulling teeth…without anesthetic. Every POV change was awkward. Every scene was awful. Every chapter sucked.
I didn’t quit.
I pushed hard, then harder. I refused to believe I wouldn’t get better. Words began to come easier, ideas flowed, the voices in my head got louder. And somewhere in there, in between the late nights and scrapped pages and cut files, I became a writer. It wasn’t about what I did. It was all about who I had become.
As I pondered the best way to put this into words for this post, I realized the answer lay there, in those words. Why do I write?
It’s who I am.
Note from Lenny: I want to thank Denise for stopping in and sharing her incredible talent with us. I hope you enjoyed that as much as I did. I encourage each of you to stop by Denise’s website and read some of her other blogs. She has an amazing way of explaining things with humor, while being serious at the same time. While you’re there, be sure to check out her novels. You’ll be glad you did!