May 04

Seeing Things, Part 2: Why I Started Writing

Dear Blog Friends,

As I mentioned on Monday, I’m about to embark on a journey, of sorts, at the end of which I will hopefully answer the question “Have I been put on this earth purely to serve as a warning to others?”  Now I’m going to tell you a little about why.


Maybe I should go back to the beginning.

It starts with a story. Everything starts with a story.  My story begins in 2002.

Many writers I meet tell me “I knew I wanted to be a writer from the time I was a little girl.” Sometimes they tell me that their high school English teacher encouraged them, or that they majored in creative writing in college.  Some of my friends tell me that they knew I was a writer from back in college, when I’d make up elaborate stories and try to tell them without sounding like someone having an acid flashback.  But I didn’t know I was a writer until I finished my third novel.

In 2002, I got depressed.  This happens sometimes when life throws you a curveball. In my case it was three curve balls, including a new baby, a troubled teen living with us*, and having a major life plan unexpectedly derailed.  Suffice it to say, I was having a hard time of it.  I lost weight. I cried a lot. I drank much more what I normally drink, sometimes as much as two bottles of wine a week.  I tried to keep busy, but everything seemed boring.  I couldn’t remember what I used to like to do.  Television still sucked.

So I decided to write a novel. Later on I’ll tell you about how I decided what to write, but at this point in the story, the important thing is that I actually did it.  I put my ass in the chair and wrote and wrote and wrote for hours and hours at a time.   I needed an escape, and I found that writing a novel can be an even deeper escape than reading one. I’d always though that writing a novel was nothing but toil and drudgery, staring at a typewriter, locked in an empty room.  No one ever told me it was fun. I threw myself into it. Do you know, I finished that novel in 6 weeks?  (I don’t recommend this.) When I was done, my novel was awesome. Flawless. **

And as soon as I was done, I started another one.  The second one, I wrote in two weeks (I don’t recommend this either.)  Then I started a third one.  I started writing in August, and by the time the New Year rolled around, I was in the middle of my third novel.

The funny thing is that I’d never before considered myself a writer. I liked to make up elaborate stories in my head, and sometimes I’d just sit and daydream about imaginary people, but except for my inevitable and unfortunate bout with morbid poetry in high school, the only thing I’d written was a story about some of my D&D characters.***  But when you finish your third novel, you have to call yourself a writer. ****

By the time I finished the third novel, I was no longer depressed.

I keep writing novels. When I’m not writing novels, I’m rewriting novels, or writing short stories.  I like it. I love the drama of my imaginary friends. I love talking about plot. I love trying to figure out what people would do in this situation or that situation.  I even like the dubious prestige of being “a writer.”  I’d like to make money off it. I’d like fame.  I’d like cute men to ask me for my autograph.  I don’t think any of these are bad reasons to write.

When other people talk about the reasons why they write, they cite stuff like I mentioned above.  For fun. To make something other people like.  Money.  Glory. (There is glory, right? They assured me there’s glory in it somewhere.) Fame, maybe.

But I’ve never heard anyone mention the first reason, my first reason for doing this in the first place.

Because it can save you.

Stick around.  I’m gonna tell stories here, and I’m gonna ask you to tell some of your own. We’re gonna take a little trip together, you and me, and at the end of it I’m going to invite you into this world I created, the city I call Seabingen.

Peace Out,


*The troubled teen exchange student is a great story, actually, now that there’s some distance between me and the event. Tragedy+time=comedy.   I’ll tell you the details later when we’re chatting at a party or something. Remind me.

**No, it wasn’t.  It sucked. Of course it sucked. Who do you think I am, Harper Lee?  Everyone’s first book sucks. (Except Harper Lee).  I’ll get back to that in a later post.

***Just as bad as morbid poetry, if you think about it.  No, you will never read these. I promise.  I won’t do that to you.

****Kind of like how after the third time you do it, it’s no longer just “experimentation” and you should just accept who you are and come out of the closet.

1 comment

    • Janni on May 4, 2011 at 9:30 am

    But I’ve never heard anyone mention the first reason, my first reason for doing this in the first place.

    Because it can save you.

    It’s true. In YA/children’s, we talk a lot about how stories can save readers. And we sort of forget that when we write, we’re saving ourselves (to greater or lesser degree at various times), too.

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