“Why Do You Write?”
Recently a friend asked me an interesting question. It was related to what I do as a writer; What I write about and who I write for. It was asked in a place where an elongated answer was too complicated to process, so I decided to “answer” via this post. It’ll probably be helpful for anyone that has never really heard me talk about my work before.
~As a quiet, ultra-observant child, communication was often an issue for me. I was shy and introverted (shocking when you read my work, I know.), and after a few initial “first words”, I spoke in full sentences once I began speaking. I remember looking at my Aunt like she was insane when I was about two years old and saying “That is obnoxious. Please stop doing that.” She was astounded at how direct I was, but because my childhood was a difficult one, my Aunt tried very hard to bring a sense of fun and silliness to my life. It didn’t really stick. I was definitely born ancient.
I am still relatively quiet, but now I know full well that I am an introverted extrovert. In the proper setting, I somehow become the center of attention, the life of the conversation, and I honestly have no idea I’m even doing it. I have no idea what makes me interesting to others or why they listen when I speak, but they do.
Before I started writing, getting my point across often meant I was greatly misunderstood. It somehow gave the impression that I was different than I actually am. A few weeks ago my brother informed me that I’m not a bitch, I’m simply misunderstood. It was an insightful remark, and amusing as hell.
I began writing as an alternative form of communication. I was lucky to be published in most school related publications in regard to poetry and extended avenues. I didn’t always have a choice what was submitted and published, so I decided to do something about that.
In 1994, along with one of my best friends, I decided to produce a by subscription only newsletter. This was prior to the Internet becoming so popular and easily accessed. At this particular juncture in time, newsletters were all the rage. A year into that project, a different opportunity presented itself. I became President & Editor-In-Chief of a fan based organization for a professional athlete. I had his permission and carte blanche, and soon found myself catering to about 1200 people from all over the world. On an extremely regular basis, I’d receive inquiries from people in countries so small, most people had never even heard of them. It was impressive, and I took it in stride. After all, I was just being myself.
I was producing membership newsletters from scratch. Design, layout, photography, and written material. It all had to be put together by me, and I did at least 90% of the writing. I was also handling merchandise, t-shirts and other custom-made paraphernalia. Word of mouth was pretty astounding. I quickly developed a reputation for my no bullshit approach. It’s something I treasure to this day, despite the very sour end to all that hard work.
When I made the decision to leave, to stop completely, it was after the loss of my Grandmother. About two and a half months later a friend died in that sport. No one should EVER fall to their death and have it blown off with a “The show must go on.” attitude. No one, but especially not someone so undeserving of such a tragic end. I backed away slowly, but surely. I was done. I had not only had enough, but I was traumatized, without truly knowing it at the time.
Coming off the heels of that, I threw myself into two other pro-sports related projects involving other athletes, but eventually stopped altogether right about the time my father’s cancer returned for the third time.
I took time to re-focus my interests. I began writing a book around that time, and it remains half completed. I truly doubt it will ever see the light of day, and I am more than ok with that. My heart no longer resides with that body of work, so I’ve made peace with the fact that it won’t be completed.
I’ve never truly stopped writing. I’ve taken breaks for my health, for my sanity. I’ve gone off and done other things temporarily to gain knowledge, but writing has always been a gift for me. It allows me to be heard on so many levels, and gives strength to a voice that, clearly, someone in this world wants to hear.
I tend to live in my own head quite a bit. The genres in which I read are just a peek into what’s bubbling in my writing psyche at the moment.
Four years ago this month, I broke down a system for a dark urban fantasy series. It’s leaning more towards being mythological fiction steeped in history, set in present day. It has had time to simmer and bubble and become something very different from what I originally began writing. It has developed beautifully into something I’m really proud of. I originally set it up as a 17 novel set where each book is an extension of the previous one. I have since pared it down to 8, but at any given moment can twist it and put it in a new direction that extends the story-line out. The first book is nearing completion, and large chunks of the second and third books have been written. I’ve worked in chapters for books four and five as well. I dislike the “write straight through” phenomenon. It’s wonderful if it works for you, but it doesn’t work for me.
You will often read or hear genre writers speak of their characters “coming to them” out of the blue with information, advice, etc. I have not a single weak character, so for me, it’s about slipping into their skin and writing their thoughts, explaining their appearances and mannerisms, and dipping ink into each personality. I LOVE my characters like a dog loves a bone. Anytime someone annoys me, they get cut from the story completely. Pretty much all of my characters are based on someone in my life, however loosely interpreted they may be, but several are immense amalgamations of too many different people to count. Perhaps that is why I love them the way I do. They don’t really talk back, they don’t give me attitude, they don’t judge me, and they’re not rude. Hmm, now that I think about it I realize I like them over pretty much everyone I know!
Writers are artists and I know that I am precise, efficient, and conveying exactly what I want to convey when I write, be it fiction or non-fiction. Some people are simply gifted writers, and I’m egotistical enough to know I’m not some poor man’s imitation of anything or anyone. I know my strengths and I will always, alwaysuse them to the very best of my advantage. In a world where writers are a dime a dozen, you have to be unique to stand out. You have to bring something different to the table and God, the competition is fierce. At the beginning and end of each day, the only person I compete with is myself. If I break a previous record on word count or I complete a chapter so that it fits in seamlessly, that is really all that matters. You write for your audience, yes, but your first audience is yourself, and maybe a few trusted friends, and before a finished body of work is submitted to a publisher, you aim to please audience #1.
Editing? I self-edit because I always have, and yes, I know what I’m doing, however I am not opposed to cutting material under advisement that I trust. There are days I delete nearly everything I have written and start from scratch, and I am almost always better for it, even if it’s painful to cut material. When you’re skilled, you know what works and what does not. When you’re intelligent and skilled, you know sentence structure, how to place dialogue, and you do not use run-on sentences. It’s important to know what you are best at. Not everyone is a writer, this is a given. I am not self-important and I do not need to pat myself on the back or call myself anything I’m not. I know who I am and I know the direction I am taking.
I’m not sure if this answers the why and what, but maybe it provides some insight into what I do when I’m not on here. In short, I create.
“Why Do You Write?” is copyright © 2014 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
*The acoustic version of this song is so much better, but I couldn’t find it.*
“Base your personal success and victories on how YOU see yourself, not based on what others are doing at the same time. Compete against yourself, and compete for yourself.” -Lisa Marino