Yesterday I asked myself, “why do I write? Is it for fame? to make a whole lot of money? For inner peace? To share stories and perhaps inspire other generations?
I have pondered how all these things fit into my world and this is my take on how reading and writing impacts my life.
As a child I remember huddling in a corner of my family room desperately trying to finish a chapter of a book while my mom repeatedly calls me to dinner. I think that when I learned to read that’s when I learned to dream. I started with ‘The Hardy Boys’ and ‘Lassie’ then moved on to Biographies of Presidents, ‘The Last of the Mohicans,’ and ‘Davy Crockette,’ ‘Huckleberry Finn,’ ‘Little Women,’ and many other classics. I was an adventurer and a patriot rolled into one. I must say that even though I was the product of the television era, I was lucky that time constraints allowed for devouring the written word in spite of the allure of westerns and superheroes. I remember the disappointment I felt at seeing Ben Hur after I had read the book. I preferred the pictures in my mind to the then much lauded cinema experience. During my awkward teen years, books were my friend, my companion and my participation in many worlds and many lives.
I started writing as a teenager because I was sad, lonely, heartbroken or mystified about life. I wrote poetry and prose back then because it was the closest thing to a country song. There was a lot I didn’t write down because, although ideas crowded my mind and filled my heart, some words never made it onto the page. I graduated from poetry, to prose, short stories, and then the never ending novels. Those that know me understand that I read books that are for a younger set. There is not much room for dreaming and wishing in most mature adult books. I can’t become the heroine, the inventor, the traveler or the one that changes others’ lives in the more mature novels. As an adult, I am fascinated by young adult books, especially genres that deal with witches and warlocks, so it’s no surprise that I read the Harry Potter series and The Secrets of Nicholas Flamel. An amusing side note, I had come across the science of Alchemy, and its association with medieval sorcery, when I was gifted a book by Paulo Coelho entitled ‘The Alchemist’ and thinking it was one of the Nicholas Flamel stories my grandson had spoken about, I started reading it. It was not as thrilling as Michael Scott’s book but rather spiritual in nature. A peaceful journey rather than a roller coaster ride.
Speaking about the ‘Secrets of Nicholas Flamel’ I would like to add that I was very much in tune to Greek and Roman Gods so I was pleasantly surprised that I recognized them in Scott’s writing. I was however introduced and took the time to research Hecate and found her to be quite formidable. A plus for reading? It introduces the need for research and a good book or series also establishes the concept of how important a timeline is. These two things became foremost in my own writing plan.
Sometimes I think it would be nice to be recognized as an accomplished author, but then I wonder, “would I write even if I knew for sure that I would never be an accomplished author?” “Yes!” because I have an objective, to write down a story from the pictures and ideas that keep flashing in my head. A slide show of worlds and adventures that sprang forth from the writings of others and bore fruit to my own design.
I love to dream even when I’m awake and I am quick to write my dreams and ideas down. I can see it come to life, the characters, the action, how it began and why. I know where the story is going, If only I could finish. Maybe I will never complete them but I know that they patiently wait to be read by others and I delight in glancing at them from time to time. Perhaps my children and grandchildren will have a chance to find them and share them with future generations. Maybe one of them will have the gift of storytelling and finish them, adding their own vision. This can be my legacy, unfinished works, to be completed by the next generation of family writers.
I write for myself mostly and when I have enough confidence in my work I hope to one day be able to share with others. These days I write stories for children. Ideas that float in my head that I can now put on paper. I plan to make these ‘Holiday Stories’ into a completed work from beginning to end. I see it in my mind and I plan it each year. It is a New Year’s resolution but as of yet I haven’t followed through. Oh I’ve added to them, edited parts, and even completed a story or two, but they just sit there, in a file folder, unread by others and waiting to come alive. It doesn’t make me sad that they are still under construction. I call it my Pinnochio waiting to come to life.
I have heard people say “write what you know” and then some who say that my life is too boring to write about. I don’t doubt it. I feel the same way most times. As a matter of fact, I can’t even remember three quarters of what I have lived. I’ve come to learn, through memoir writing workshops, that a lot of what I know was not through my own experience but through family anecdotes. The little I remember wouldn’t probably be enough to fill a book since I do not have the words, nor the desire to be wordy enough to embellish the events of my life. What I do have, and will always remember, are my dreams and fantasies. These are the inspirations that, for me, are worth writing about, making their way to my pages. Filling them with what I wished my life to be. I can transform myself into any protagonist and do things I wish were true for myself in the real world. I am fearless and self assured, not filled with doubts or feelings of inadequacies. The worlds that I create and the ideas I put on paper are just as gratifying to me as if they were published.
I read and I dream. I write and I create my own fantasy, and then I return to my life with a smile. Dreams are great story starters and if I am excited about the storyline then it is a book I would read.
So why do I write? Because I love inventing and reinventing a life that is possible only in dreams. If we don’t have our dreams then how can we handle our existence and struggles with life? My world today is filled with many blessings and I no longer need to escape reality the majority of time, but still I dream and I promise to share these fantasies with future generations in hopes to inspire them to devour the written book and to write what they know even if it’s only in their dreams.