I love to write. Always have.
Some of my first stories came from a chubby Snoopy pencil. (Anyone else remember those fat pencils that seemed way too big for tiny beginning writers’ hands?)
I covered and wrote about my first event before I hit double digits. I even earned a byline in a publication. Perhaps it only went out to a few dozen people, but still!
As I grew, I continued to write. Some of my fondest memories of school were of the research papers I wrote. Creative writing as a high school senior and then again in college gave me a taste for creating worlds and planted the seed of a desire to do more of that. And then I discovered a way to make money by doing what I love. I’m creeping up on 20 years of being a “professional” writer. Now I’m channeling my abilities back toward the creative side in my pursuit to publish books. I want to write as many books as I possibly can in my finite lifetime. Story inspiration swirls all around me, and this leads to why I write.
Why I Took a Wrong Writing Turn …
One day I’ll learn to listen to myself. I have written many times and in various ways how everyone has a Story. That always leads to confessing how much I love to tell others’ Stories and how I long to tell the untold tales of others.
After a recent book series brainstorming session taught me what I won’t be writing next, I finally listened to my own voice. “Everyone has a Story.”
A couple weeks ago, I pulled out my list of book ideas and used questions from my “Choosing My Next Story” printable to pick two to make reality this year. I chose one that’s been on my heart for just over a year now. It’s a standalone literary fiction novel. The other held all the promise of being an easier-to-market series that could add the desired “successful” adjective to my dream title—author.
Total honesty—the first scares the mess out of me. It handles tough stuff: PTSD, alcoholism, mental illness and grief. It won’t be an easy write. And, the other side for me is this is a Story I’m passionate about. So, to be perfectly honest, I’m terrified I won’t do it right or well enough—that I’ll somehow show insensitivity to the very hurting people I weep for and with.
So, I leapt onto the series idea. I was pumped, excited, ready to go. Seriously, I thought I’d found the Indie Author‘s bread-and-butter—a popular series that I could crank out and release back to back for maximum revenue return. One of my Monday night writing sessions was dedicated to going over the brainstorming I’d already done and fleshing that out more. I wanted to begin some outlines and perhaps even start a few scenes or get a feel for my characters.
I got comfy with my pen and paper and settled in for a productive night. And, it was. In a wheels-spinning-in-the-mud kind of way. I ended up with three completely different ways—and genres—these stories could go. One leaned toward a supernatural thriller, another toward a Native American fantasy, the other wandered into Sci-Fi territory with some serious conspiracy theory leanings. (Have I ever told you my mind can be a rather scary place?)
… And What I Did About It (with my husband’s nudge)
When my husband, Tony, got home from work late that night, he found me propped up in bed surrounded by papers full of scribbled questions, ideas, plot points, etc. I started telling him about the series, how it started and how it had morphed into these radically different approaches that had me confused and stumped. I kept rambling to him. The more I talked, the more unsure I became and the crazier my ideas sounded. I finally stopped mid-sentence, looked up at him and said, “These are ridiculous, aren’t they? Like I’m trying too hard?”
We talked for a bit about what was and wasn’t working with my ideas. Then I showed him the other story I’d considered. I handed him a fairly complete and coherent typed outline. Once he read it, his first words were, “Well, that’s definitely more you.”
Tony reminded me of who I am and where my passions lie. I need to stop worrying about what will sell or what could make me a household name and concentrate instead on writing what matters to me—Stories rooted in reality and deserving of an audience. The ideas I need to pursue are the ones based on life, that examine our hearts and souls—the ones that stir my soul and make my heart race. These are the Stories I see around me every day—life’s joys, sorrows, pains and triumphs. They are why I write!
Why Story Inspiration is Key
Everyone and everything has a Story. Stories fill the cracks and crevices of the universe. I want to be the one to embrace as many Stories as I can and share them with readers throughout time and space. A great Story deserves a reader—even the fabricated ones. In order to reach a reader, the Story must find someone willing to allow it to indwell him and flow through him.
This is who I am as a writer, and these are the Stories I was called to write.
Why I Write
But why? Why do I write? Simple—the Story.
Why do I pursue writing more vigorously now than ever?
My soul overflows with Stories, so I frantically write; for they are immortal, but I am not.
We all have a Story to tell. Last week I chatted with you about how everyone has a Story and how story inspiration exists around us all the time. Some of us are overflowing with tales. Some of us live the Stories. And some have both and more—they get to tell the Stories others live as well.
I’m one of the latter.
More than half of my life I’ve had the privilege and honor of telling others’ Stories. That’s something I will continue in this creative format. I want to be a voice for the voiceless, to tell the untold tales and to cast light on the darkness. I want to look through history and gaze all around me and write about the people who may seem simply ordinary to themselves or the people who know them but whose passions or pain or perseverance make them extraordinary.
While this aspect of storytelling remains a large part of who I am and what I do, I long to create as well. I gaze at a blank screen and envision all the Stories and worlds and people and creatures it can contain. I want to tell those Stories as well and know that those tales that inspire me will bleed onto the pages of these manuscripts as well.
Next week I’ve got more details for you on the novel I’m currently writing as well as on the other writing projects I’m juggling. Plus, I’ll be sharing my writing focus for the next few years and what you can expect to see from me.
Dear Reader, before you I stand, a more focused and contented writer with a plan. Stick with me—we’re heading some exciting places together!
What about you? Do you struggle to listen to yourself, too? What is with that?! In your life, what drives you and what are you passionate about?