40 Reasons Why I Write

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Relatively recently, Bryan Hutchinson issued a challenge on his blog, Positive Writer – list 40 reasons why you write. You can see his answers here. When it came about, I was in the throws of Camp NaNoWriMo. As that is now complete, and I’m taking a small break from the novel so I can attack it again in July’s edition of Nano, I needed this challenge. It’s been difficult to stay motivated, because the hits just keep coming in both my personal and professional life. So, I’m going to take some time to remind myself why I write. I hope you find my answers either interesting or inspirational. Also, I am so incredibly late to this challenge.

  1. Writing keeps my brain busy. With my ADHD, my brain is always spinning anyway, so this gives it something to work on in the background.
  2. Stories haunt me, and I have to get them out.
  3. I have had a lot of trauma and strange events in my life, and I need an outlet.
  4. Sometimes, I like to live vicariously through my characters.
  5. Sometimes, I like to bury myself in my characters so I can forget life.
  6. My son looks up to me for creating whole stories all by myself, and there’s no beating that.
  7. Writing is a strong bond I share with my husband, as he is also an author.
  8. Writing is a strong bond I share with my sister-in-law. She is also an author.
  9. Writing has helped me make amazing friendships, some that are sure to be lifelong.
  10. I like how writing makes me feel, like I am weaving worlds from my imagination.
  11. The sense of accomplishment I feel when I finally get something right is amazing.
  12. Rewriting has taught me all about perseverance. Frustration, but perseverance.
  13. I like to read things I love over and over again, so this was probably a fitting career choice.
  14. I love to paint with words.
  15. I love to listen to music, and music always inspires me to paint with my words.
  16. Clever dialogue is all around me. What would I do if I didn’t jot some of it down and use it for my own benefit?
  17. My best friend has yoga. I have writing.
  18. The creative people on my journey with me are the best people.
  19. My characters tend to be stronger than I am. Or at least, than I was. These days, I seem to be taking a page from my own book. Writing has encouraged me to be stronger.
  20. I’ve had a lot of people tell me I won’t get anywhere in this business, or something is wrong with the core of a particular story, etc. I intend to prove them very wrong.
  21. When my anxiety disorder, my depression, my PTSD rears up, writing helps me cope.
  22. Because, as a woman, and as a woman with physical and mental health issues, my voice and my individual experiences deserve to be heard.
  23. I love reading so much, and I know how it feels to really connect with a character. I would love to be able to provide that for someone else.
  24. I’ve always loved playing with voice and word choice, seeing how different an outcome I can create just by finding a more exact bit of syntax.
  25. Writing often helps me to put feelings I’m dealing with into words, to tell truths through my characters that I can’t articulate properly in reality.
  26. I honestly don’t know what I would do with all the spare time I’d get if I didn’t write or plan to write.
  27. When I’m writing I can temporarily put off other, more important chores. But not the most important ones, of course. 😉
  28. I still believe in magic, and sometimes, writing feels like magic. Like when something inexplicably comes together, and it feels like destiny, that feels like magic. That is the rare moment where I become a believer.
  29. How else can I justify talking to the people who live in my brain?
  30. I’m stubborn and I’ve said I’m going to do it, so damn it, I’m going to do it.
  31. Some of the most fascinating people I’ve ever met write, so I hope some of that rubs off on me.
  32. Sometimes, I’m not all that adventurous, so I need an excuse to try new and interesting things. Research gives me that excuse.
  33. I was already a fact hoarder. This gives me a reason to hoard facts.
  34. I hate waste, and I feel like I have a lot of knowledge and random experiences that just kind of sit around in my brain and go to waste. I want to give them some use. Like my two years working at an ice cream shop. I’m using that in my latest book.
  35. There are tons of stories that I want to read, that I don’t find out there. I’ve always been a bit of a control freak. They say, if you want something done, do it yourself, right?
  36. I’m getting to a point where rejections mean almost nothing to me. I’m numb to rejection.
  37. Unless, they come with constructive criticism, at which point I am disappointed, but I have learned to love constructive criticism and view it as encouragement and help, rather than an insult. I think writing has helped to improve my personality in that way.
  38. I have also become able to tell the difference between constructive knowledgeable criticism and insults, being led astray, and jealous attacks designed to keep a person below them. That lesson has helped me in all areas of my life.
  39. I have a side gig as an editor, and I’ve always believed that, if you are going to manage people, you should be willing to get your hands dirty. If I won’t get my hands dirty with words, why should I tell other people to do so?
  40. I love to geek out. It’s my life’s mission to make other people geek out as much as I do.

So, there are my 40 reasons! Do you need to remind yourself why you love something? Share your reasons in the comments, and thank you for being one of the people I’ve encountered on this journey, the people I write for. Thank you for being one of my reasons. ❤

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Reject Redux

Hello all!  This post is a retread of an earlier post on rejection with a little added content for entry in ‘Writing Contest: Overcoming Writer’s Doubt’ held by Positive Writer.” – See more at: http://positivewriter.com/writing-contest-doubt/#sthash.DlvrCK6w.dpuf.  Check out the post for a little inspiration and check out the contest to see how you can enter and discuss how you’ve overcome doubt as a writer.

A writer’s life is filled with rejection.  It takes a lot of hard work to become a J.K. Rowling or a Stephen King, and even they received rejection after rejection before they became household names.  So when you decide to be a writer, you sign yourself up for the mother load of rejections.  You know it’s coming, no matter how hard you work.  No matter where on the scale the quality of your work falls, it may not match the vision of the places where you are submitting your work.

So, when that email pops up – the one that comes from the place you really wanted in on, it breaks your heart.

It happened to me.  In the middle of a normal work day. How do you concentrate on anything when something like that happens?

I read the rejection email.  I reread it because I just couldn’t have seen that right.  And then I went to the bathroom at my job and cried away half of my lunch break.  I swore the editors wouldn’t know a good piece of writing if it bit them (which was ridiculous, since I read and loved previous issues), and I swore I would never write again.

And then I took a deep breath and saw things as they really were.  My vision and the magazine’s vision of the story didn’t match up. And that was okay.  There would be other magazines, there would be other stories.

The first cut is the deepest, as they say.  I opened up a chat window and reached out to my Allegra-shaped friend, one of my two dearest friends.  I said, “I can’t lose my mind over this.  This is what the rest of my life is going to be like.”  Clearly, I was a masochist when I chose this profession.

Did I want that?  Could I live a life where these children of mine, these tales birthed from my brain, personal emotions spun into art, could be rejected…often?

I wasn’t sure I could.  I got on the train to go home that night and there was a weight on my shoulders, a question on my mind.

And instead of thinking about it like I had sworn to myself I would do, I took out a pen and my notebook and I started writing.  A new short story, a rejection-gatherer of its own (it already has three!)

So why write?

Because I can’t not write.  Because a simple train ride home that was supposed to be spent in quiet contemplation became the seed of an idea.  Because when I try not to write, I write anyway.  Because nothing interests me the way telling a story does.

Because for every hundred rejections, there has got to be an acceptance.  And that acceptance feels incredible.  I know.  I lived that one too.  So I will keep dreaming and keep writing.  Because it’s not the publication I’m writing for.

It’s the feeling of creation I’m writing for.  No discouraging moment can take that away.

You know that rejected piece that had me so down in the dumps?  Well, a few weeks ago, it got accepted for publication.  And you know that little rejection-gatherer I wrote on the train?  In a completely wacky twist of fate, it got accepted to a different place the following day.  So keep at it.  Keep writing.  Keep sending.  It may tear you down sometimes, but it can also build you up.  It’s the writer’s life, and we weren’t built to function any other way.

What keeps you pursuing your dream despite the rejections?  Share below!

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Turning Corners

The below is my entry to ‘Writing Contest: You Are a Writer’ which is being held by Positive Writer.  The contest is open until August 30th, so feel free to enter yourself if you have a blog!  The topic of the contest is also in line with my usual fare, so I hope you enjoy!

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Acting Days

I have always been good at navigating my way off of shaky ground.  It seems that since I was young, there was always some challenge to counter, some problem to find my way around, and I’ve come through every turn with a smile on my face and a lesson in my pocket.  When things are unsteady, you learn to roll with the punches and to cherish those things that are steady.  Like who you are – the core of your being.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been one of those “creative types.”  I was never content to allow spare time to be actual spare time.  I would put on a play, record an album on my old half-broken tape deck, record ads for said album complete with script…I can even remember a time that I attempted to teach myself ballet (that didn’t go well, as I’m sure you’ve pieced together.)

I’ve always written, but my goal in life was to be an actress and a singer.  And then, one day, I was eighteen, and auditioning for any role I could find.  The problem, when you’re a young, “cute” overweight girl, is that you will always get the role of the plucky bestie who really needs to lose some weight, and never get the lead role.  It wasn’t until a small time studio executive that shall remain nameless told me that they could guarantee me a record deal if I could just drop a disgusting amount of weight in a very limited time period, that I realized this was not for me.  It wasn’t that I didn’t want to lose weight.  I did – for health reasons.  What I didn’t want was to be judged by my outer appearance.  A crazy thought to have when you are pursuing a career in a world that is all about the external.

Still, I continued auditioning while working a part time job at the video store, eagerly awaiting the casting director who would see through the extra pounds and cast me as something more important than “girl on treadmill” or “girl who stares longingly at a box of cupcakes”.  And then one day, I got bored at work and began to jot down a story idea.  Not because I thought, ‘oh, I’m going to be a writer now’, but because it was and always had been my equivalent of doodling.

Except the minute I started, my brain became an uncorked bottle, tipped on its side.  I spent the entire, very dead, day at the video store cranking out an entire notebook of writing.  Sure it wasn’t very good, but it was a start.  I went home and I showed my husband.  He was a writer.  He read it and he asked me what I wanted to do with it.

I told him that I didn’t know.   But it would be nice to work with what my brain could create, to be acknowledged for my mind and not my outward appearance.  He told me that either was something that should be honored, but that he liked my brain more.  Because he’s a sweetheart, and there’s a damn good reason why we’ve been together for sixteen years.

That was not the instant I started seeing myself as a writer, but it is the moment I became one.  It was the corner turned that told me that, if I could handle rejection and an uncertain future as an artist, I should choose what kind of artist made me the most comfortable, brought me the most interest.

As time went by, I realized that only the written word was capable of bringing true excitement out in me, that I lived almost entirely in my mind anyway, and it was very interesting and sort of twisted in there, and I wanted to explore that, I wanted to project that into the world.

The moment that I actually began to see myself as a writer came years later.  After a drink in a roomful of people that were very nearly strangers, I introduced myself to someone, who in return asked me what I did for a living.  I told them, “I’m a legal assistant, but I’m a writer on nights and weekends.”  I thought I was being clever, but the person stopped me.  She was fascinated by the statement.

As I answered a load of questions about what I write and where I get all of my ideas, I realized something.  “I guess, I was just joking when I said that first part.  Really, I’m a writer all the time.”

In that moment, I owned it.  I’m a writer before I’m anything.  Everything else is just what I do to support my writing.  Though it was an understanding that was both terrifying and thrilling, after that moment I wrote more than I had in the years before.

Sometimes, you need to bounce back from a failure and turn a corner so you’re facing a different direction.  Sometimes, you need to stroll through shaky ground in order to, once again, find your feet level.  And sometimes the only thing standing in the way of becoming something, is saying the words.