“YOU are a WRITER when you BELIEVE that you ARE—and once PEOPLE BELIEVE they are WRITERS, they are ON THE PATH to a life-long LOVE of WRITING.”
~ Tracy Gardner
Amy is a teacher, an aspiring writer, and a blogger – I am a teacher, an aspiring writer, and a blogger. We both attended the WIFYR Conference last week and both experienced up and down rides – the kinds that thrill and nauseate you. On her latest post, Amy posed the question often asked at the conference: Why do you write? Her post’s purpose is to solicit inspiring responses in hopes of lifting her writing spirits.
I don’t know if my reasons will inspire Amy or anyone else, but I do think every person who writes asks that question of themselves, and the answer is very important for many reasons. I remember when my cousin’s husband gave up golf after decades spent on the course. Why? Because he found no more joy in the game. I think that some individuals may put aside pen and paper if writing loses its spell over the writer. And that brings me to my reason for writing. I am spellbound by it.
Despite the play on words, it’s true. Writing has a hold on me; sometimes tighter than others. As a youngster, I wrote poems – terrible rhyming things that I thought were masterpieces; a few stories – just as pathetic as the poetry; and plays – usually a plagiarized creation that I recreated from Little Golden Books or The Children’s Friend.
In my first round of college classes, I suffered through research papers and English 101 essays. I only remember one paper earning an A, and that had a minus attached to it. I wish I had kept it, but I do remember it was about dieting and one line mentioned the dread of joining 1/3 or more of the world’s population who goes to bed hungry. Not because of lack of food, but because I’d have to count calories for the rest of my life. Besides the decent grade, I recall the teacher’s comment about strong tone or style or something like that. What I think she meant was VOICE – a term not that familiar back in 1967 (at least to me). I think that little bit of encouragement kept me writing for a community newspaper, church newsletters and skits, etc. long after I dropped out of BYU.
Writers are readers, too. From 4th grade on, I’ve been an avid reader. A competition to earn a fish for each book read motivated 9-year-old me to open one book after another in order fill up the aquarium on the bulletin board in Mrs. Jorgenson’s classroom. I quickly moved from those Golden Books to Nancy Drew to abridged classics like Heidi and Little Women to Reader’s Digest’s condensed novels like Mrs. Mike and The Egg and I. Of course, my older cousin introduced me to the sleazy books you have to hide from parents, but regardless of the genre, I LOVED all those pages plastered with familiar and UNfamiliar words that pulled me into places I enjoyed visiting – whether or not I should have been there!
My love of words grew, and along with it, a love of writing. I meticulously searched for just the right noun to place on the third line of an original poem. I found “zephyr.” I looked for an adjective to describe meadows hidden in mountain valleys, and celebrated when I stumbled upon “verdant.” After I saw the word, “akimbo,” while reading To Kill a Mockingbird, I tucked it away until I needed it to describe a disgusted mother’s body language.
I’m not sure when I REALLY considered myself a writer, but it wasn’t until I started writing nearly every day. Not because I HAD to but because I NEED to. My day feels incomplete unless I record something more substantial than my grocery list: ideas, reflections, descriptions, research, experiences, etc. on one of my 3 blogs.
But now I’m stretching myself even further because of an obscure incident that rather jarred me. Six years ago after returning to Utah from a stint in Georgia, I bumped into an acquaintance from our old neighborhood. After a few minutes of catching up, she asked if I had published my book.
“What book?” I replied.
“Weren’t you working on a book when you moved away?”
I had to think. While I have thought about, daydreamed, and toyed with the “I’ll-write-a-book-someday” idea, I didn’t realize I had said TALKED about it to anyone – especially to someone I hardly knew. I almost told her she had me mixed up with somebody else, but I stopped.
“That’s still on my to-do list,” I said.
And so there it is.
Besides being captivated by words, I write because I haven’t finished my book.