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Why do I write?

I was looking over Twitter a few minutes ago and someone that I began following this morning asked a question that simply cannot be summed up in the small space that Twitter allows, so, I have decided to answer in brief there, and to actually answer the question here on my website.

What I started to respond with was…

I write because I do not know how to stop. It’s part of my soul and has been since I was a child, it was not until years into my life, however, that I began to make money writing. I no longer make money, but desperately want to get back to where my writing pays the bills.

That was only the “pretty” answer and I know it. My reason for writing is deeper and far more complex than I could ever define in so few words.

So, taking the advice of Henry David Thoreau, and many others, I shall endeavor to find the short answer by first writing it as it needs to be written.

I got a love for writing at a very young age, but it was not until I was older before I began to make money at it. By 2008 I was living my dream of being a paid writer, and of that writing actually paying the bills. Then two things happened that devastated my life. The economic collapse that sent my income from over $2,000 a month to zero in a matter of days. At the same time my biggest supporter passed away. I recall these events together because on the day that my mother died one of my sisters purchased the newspaper and the headline was on the collapse of the national economy. It had always been my mom who had made sure the bills were paid and found the money in the budget to get the things anyone needed.

I had a crisis on my hands. I had gone from full-time writer and part-time care provider to my father to full-time care provider trying to make ends meet on no money. I’m not sure what would have happened had my father not had retirement income from the Army.

Approximately two years later my father passed away and after two years of struggling to meet the ever changing requests of the bank to try to save my home I lost the house I had lived in with my parents for some 20 years. Homeless and broke I turned to family… and only a few precious few of my family stepped up rather than turn their backs on me.

The was the hardest part I think, to lose my father and have those I had always depended on turn their backs on me and whisper (or shout) how they were glad I was losing the house. To say that I fell into depression would be a terrible injustice to the severity of the kind of mental depression I felt at that time in my life.

Over the years I have picked up my writing and seen it fall through my fingers time and again, and yet… I must write. I feel it as deeply as I feel the need to breathe. Writing is the core within my existence that keeps me moving forward.

In 1998 I spent a wild month creating a roughly 65,000 word novel in 30 days, well before NaNoWriMo was even conceived of.

Around 1993 I was maintaining a diary online while I attended the local community college… I had a “blog” before such a term was coined.

In my youth, around age 12 I want to say, I recall laying on the living room carpet with the stock pages from the local newspaper spread out around me as I worked in my notebook on how to create a Hardy Boys Mystery novel where the clues were hidden in the financial section of their local newspaper.

But before all of that, I remember sitting in a corner at the base of the stairs around age 10 and reading an article in something. I do not recall if it was a National Geographic, a checkout stand tabloid, or any of a multitude of other possibilities where I found it, but it touched something deep in me even at such a young age.

It was the story of Twelve-year-old Edward V, and nine-year-old Richard of Shrewsbury, Duke of York, sons of Edward IV, King of England and Elizabeth Woodville, who were taken to the Tower of London and… vanished.

I do not recall much about the story, only that it was on the discovery of two children’s skeletons that had been found under the staircase leading to the chapel of the White Tower in 1674. I assume it had been in one of my mother’s many copies of past issues of National Geographic, but time has eroded the actual source. What has not been eroded is the intense draw I felt that day to find some way to make history right. To by some means give those two young boys a better fate than the one their lives held for them. I began to work on a story that would become a lifetime work.

I do not recall when I settled on the working title of Heir to Magic, but I think it was in the early 1990’s. Over the years I have also changed the names of the boys in my story, for a time Edward has been named Henry instead, but I may change that back. Or …. This is all off the topic of WHY I write, though, so let’s get back to that.

A few years before she passed away my mom and I were watching a sitcom called Momma’s Family late one evening and she told me that she loved to watch it because the family was more messed up than hers. It was a means of escape for her into a world of amusement at the troubles that the characters faced in each episode. It was a way for her to, for half an hour a week, see things could have been hilariously worse than they were in her own life.

It was only days before my father passed away that I happened to ask him why he read science fiction and he replied that when he was young and doing guard duty in the Army he had found a copy of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction laying on the railing of the guard tower. He took it home, read every story in it, and returned it to where he had found it the next day. The simple act of someone leaving a magazine of short stories laying on a railing had made him a lifelong fan of science fiction and fantasy.

Both my mother and father encouraged reading for me, I recall many times as a young girl when my father would seek me out to give me a novel, telling me that he thought that I would really enjoy the book. Through him I found so many wonderful worlds and stories and became an avid reader of all things Science Fiction and Fantasy.

Life has a way of making things like reading luxuries that one cannot partake in, however, and as I grew older it came to be more and more difficult to set aside my worries and stress and vanish into a book. It took exceptional books to keep my attention long enough for me to escape my worries, and that became the kind of book I wanted to write. Escapes, stories that drew the reader in and let them forget that their life was in turmoil. If only for a brief few moments as they read the words I had written.

And at the core of that dream still resides two small princes who died centuries ago. I write because I want to make the world a better place, even in fiction, for those who life has abused too much. And I suppose that is the short answer that I have been seeking, so I will end this now and stop rambling.

Why do you write? Share your reason in the comments, on your own blog, on Twitter… maybe just write them down in your own private journal that no one else will ever read, but write it out. Explore the question and reconnect with the part of yourself that understands why you spend so much time on something that you know will never pay back what you have put into it. Why do you write?

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