This is my first attempt at completing one of Chuck Wendig’s flash fiction writing challenges although this week does not involve fiction strangely enough. It’s been a topic I’ve been thinking about recently so when I saw the prompt, I thought I would take a stab at it. First, the prompt.
WHY I WRITE.
That’s it. I wanna know why you write. What it is that makes you want to tell stories and write them down. What drives you? Something biographical? Something internal? Dig deep. Be thoughtful. Write it out like the bad-ass that you know you are.
My writing journey began as a teenager, and it began with writing fanfiction before I even knew the term existed. I would fill notebooks with further adventures of my favorite television characters. These were characters I had been inspired by in one way or another. Usually, they would be people who would try to do the right thing, and I would write about the journey they would take to get there. I used their journey to help me with my own journey as I grew into a young woman.
Along with writing fanfiction, I also kept a journal. I would use this place to write down many of my deepest secrets, things I didn’t want anyone else to know about. I asked the questions that no one else could answer and told the stories no one else could tell. It was my way of making sense of my world.
This theme would continue in subsequent years. I received my bachelors in psychology and my master of arts in teaching, but I kept going back to writing, my way of making sense of the world. I could never figure out how to make money from just my writing though so I began teaching and gradually stopped writing because I was busy being an adult or adulting (as one of my friends likes to say). I got married, gave birth to my boys, and eventually quit teaching to stay at home with them.
In subsequent years, we moved several times, and my boys grew. And, as those of you who are parents know, as they grew older, they were able to do more for themselves, and I was able to do more that didn’t involve directly caring for them. I piddled with writing a little bit, but it was not anything serious, and it was like I had forgotten everything that used to mean so much to me.
All of that changed in the year 2009, six and a half years ago. We began the year having discussions on whether to move back to our home state to help care for my mother-in-law who had not been doing well. We decided to do so in February, and looking back it was almost as if God had given us the promptings to move. Because, two months later, she passed away suddenly. I was heartbroken. We were all heartbroken. In the midst of settling her affairs, I pulled out a notebook and started writing. That writing grew into a crescendo as the calendar made its way through the summer and into the fall. It wasn’t long before the rest of my family became used to seeing me take a notebook wherever we went.
The following year I heard of something called National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short. It happens every November, and many words are written all over the world. The goal is to write a 50000 word novel during the thirty days of that month. I decided to participate. It turned out that my husband needed surgery so, on the very first day of that month, I was feverishly writing while sitting in the hospital waiting room. I didn’t know it at the time, but my family was about to go through more change. I finished my first 50000 word novel that month while my husband was recovering. He ended up losing his job through that set of circumstances and started looking for another one. 2010 flowed into 2011, and I continued to write as I coped with all the change. He couldn’t find work where we were so we ended up moving to Birmingham, Alabama. Moving here was fortuitous as there were so many more resources available for writers than there were in my former home town.
But, of course, change and life continued to happen. I miscarried our third child in late 2011 and went through some dark and black times during the following year. I continued to write, but it was almost as if I was doing it through a fog. I finally realized at the beginning of 2013 that I was suffering from depression. We had begun visiting the first church we had gone to in eight years, and I had come back to the Christian faith I had as a teenager and young adult. The pastor of that church offered to counsel me, and we began talking. It didn’t take long for him to get clued in as to how I coped with the world, and he suggested I journal what I was feeling. I did so, and the fog started lifting. I had a place where I could be completely honest with myself, and it was a place I didn’t have to share with anyone else.
Since that time I have filled many journals and written blog posts and stories. None of my stories have been published yet, but I know that is only a matter of time. I am very grateful to all of the people who have encouraged me along the way, but especially to my husband and to my pastor who every so often asks me if I have written it down when I start to tell him something.
Have a great day!
I’ve seen many quotes about writing, but two have always stood out to me. “Please do not annoy the writer. She may put you in a book and kill you.” or “Careful or you’ll end up in my novel.” I’m sure those of you who are writers and have seen these quotes get a chuckle out of them. There is a point though in writing down your life experiences or keeping a journal. A few points actually.
First, the experiences themselves can be fodder for writing fiction you would like to write. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve had something happen to me in real life, and my first thought was, “I should take notes so I can write this in a future story.” This is what having a journal does for me. I write about particular situations in my life, and they are there for me to remember when I need writing inspiration.
Second, having a journal helps me to process the world around me. I started being consistent with keeping a journal just over two years ago when someone I consider a mentor encouraged me to do so. Now, when I tell him about various things that happen in my life, the first question he always asks me is, “Have you written it down?” I think I am up to seven finished journals now, and I know I look at life in a different and more healthy way because I’ve kept journals.
Finally, keeping a journal has made me a better writer. Being able to put my thoughts and feelings down on paper has helped me to understand the process of writing and how to make things clear and understandable. At times, my journal entries have been story starters, and whenever, I haven’t been able to think of anything else to write, my journal has been my mainstay. I’m grateful I’ve taken the time to keep a journal, and I would encourage anyone who writes to do the same.
Have a great day!