“Why Do You Write?”

“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.

Create

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Laugh…

“Laugh, even when you feel too sick or too worn out or tired.

Smile, even when you’re trying not to cry and the tears are blurring your vision.

Sing, even when people stare at you and tell you your voice is crappy.

Trust, even when your heart begs you not to.

Twirl, even when your mind makes no sense of what you see.

Frolic, even when you are made fun of.

Kiss, even when others are watching.

Sleep, even when you’re afraid of what the dreams might bring.

Run, even when it feels like you can’t run any more.

And, always, remember, even when the memories pinch your heart. Because the pain of all your experience is what makes you the person you are now. And without your experience—you are an empty page, a blank notebook, a missing lyric.

What makes you brave is your willingness to live through your terrible life and hold your head up high the next day. So don’t live life in fear. Because you are stronger now, after all the crap has happened, than you ever were back before it started.” ―Alysha Speer

Dad…

Dad…

It’s been six years today since you passed away. I still remember the phone calls that morning. I remember every day after it so vividly, even the months of not being able to get out of bed or function after burying you. I never want to re-live it again, yet it plays out each year in ways I never imagined.

Growing up I wanted to be as little like you as humanly possible, and you know why. I chose to separate myself and be my own person, because I couldn’t fathom having your blood running through my veins.

Our relationship was a difficult one, but in the end, I made sure you got the best medical care possible, I planned your funeral, and gave the eulogy. I did everything you asked of me. I spoke at the memorial service. You had battled cancer bravely for 15 years, and I chose to honor you instead of pointing out your many flaws. I can always discuss those in therapy. I wasn’t about to embarrass you in front of friends, family, or your co-workers. Lets not talk about your extended family, because you should be utterly ashamed of them. I know I am.

Today, I can hear your voice whenever my brother says certain things, and I can see your expressions when he does certain things. You live on in your son, with his twisted sense of humor, good heart, and firm belief that every single year is going to be a winning one for the New York Giants and the New York Yankees (Not this year M, sorry.). I’m sure you’re rolling over in your grave knowing that Mariano Rivera retired this Fall.

Unfortunately for my brother, he also picked up a lot of your bad habits and a great many of your issues. I have tried my best to help him, but now he’s on his own. I won’t allow myself to re-live my childhood and adolescence with another person with abusive tendencies who doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with the things he says or does, who refuses to take responsibility for his actions. I won’t let him become the worst of you, and I won’t allow him to hurt the people that you hurt for so long. If he ever treats a wife and children the way you did, I will put a stop to it. I won’t allow the cycle to continue.

Fortunately, at the core of who he is, he’ll give someone the shirt off his back and save a life. I have seen him do it countless times, and I am in awe of that calm, patient, gentle soul that is caring and accepting, that shows genuine concern for others, that listens to people and shows such immense kindness, it’s incredibly endearing. But when he turns on a dime, I hear and see you, and I probably always will.

Yes, you had your good points. You were smart & sharp, educated, and possessed a warped sense of humor, and a deep and abiding love for cats. You had amazing work ethic. You passed those things on to your children. Bravo.

In fairness, I know you were a product of your own childhood and the traumas you endured. I get it, I really do, but it’s no excuse. I realize you never wanted children, and to that I say “Then you never should have gotten married, and if you did, it should have been to someone who also did not want children.”

For years after your death, I decided to let it all slide. What difference would it make now, carrying around all the anger and hostility I felt and still, to this day, feel? I don’t want to live in the past and carry any of this forward, but the truth is, it does remain. Lingering around forever, like bad perfume.

I have always been very open and honest about what I’ve experienced in my life. I’d be more ashamed if I didn’t discuss the things that have shaped me into who I am. Nothing was perfect, but my mother came pretty damn close. She had to carry the weight of two parents, after all. You may have been physically present, you may have been home each night after a long day of work, but you did not raise your kids. That fell to my mother and Grandmother, and later the responsibility also fell to me. It continues to fall to me to this day.

I can forgive you for what you put us through, and some day that forgiveness will come to fruition. Not today, maybe not in a year or ten years, but eventually I will forgive it, or at the very least, make peace with it. I will NEVER forgive you for what you put my mother through. She deserved a husband who was everything she was, and God, did you fall short in every possible way, to the point where it actually pained me to bury her next to you, for in death I felt she deserved some peace and space that you did not also inhabit. I know eventually it’s just bones, but it still matters to me. She will always matter, for she is a part of me that is deeper than blood and bones.

This was not what I intended to write today, but somehow pain has risen to the surface and I do not possess the ability to “let it fly”. To fake it would be falseness of self, and I cannot abide by that. For today, I may not be able to “let it fly”, but I can certainly “let it be”, because to ask any more or any less of myself would be to court more madness and that is something I do not want, nor do I deserve. For today, it is what it is.

‘Six years can change everything. It can change how you see the world, how you see yourself, how you see your relationships, and how you see the future. I have hardened. I have softened. I have strengthened. I have focused on myself, and I have grown. I have fought battles, and won. I have fought battles that weren’t worth fighting, and walked away unscathed. I have tended wounds, and worked on scars. I have loved and been loved. I have seen beauty, and I have seen the dark underbelly. I have accomplished things people told me I would never attain on my own. I have risen out of the ashes, as the infinite phoenix of my own destiny. Most importantly, I have stood on my own two feet. No matter where life takes me, I know who I am. I know my worth and value.

In Memory of my father, who knows why these things are all so very important. …May You Never Be Broken Again.’

Young IDF Soldier Killed

Young IDF Soldier Killed

This story is all over the news in many forms, so I’m sure some of you have heard it, even if only in passing.

It’s heartbreaking to me that Palestinians are being taught such violence and hatred at such a young age, whereas Sabras (Israeli born Jews) and Jews born outside of Israel aren’t taught hate. I was not raised to hate, I was raised to treat every individual on a case-by-case basis. To this day, that is still how I treat people. I don’t spew hatred and I don’t like carrying around hatred within myself. In times likes these, it simply hurts me that there is such a lack of compassion for humanity in this world.

So many of us have passions and interests that we support in so many different ways, but in turn, we forget to support each other. That’s unacceptable to me, and I hope that one day that changes and people start to see the error of their ways.

In the Jewish religion, we light Yahrzeit to light the way to a happy after-life. Even those who do not believe in reincarnation still do this, especially after the passing of a loved one, or in remembrance of someone we may have never even met. Having lost both of my parents and over 60 friends, family members, and pets, I could probably burn my house down with the amount of candles I’m supposed to light on a yearly basis and on the High Holy Days. I can’t always do it because it fills me with a lot of pain at times to do so.

In light of this tragedy, I hope that some people will purchase a candle (Yahrzeit usually burns for 24-30 hours straight, each one is slightly different in terms of how long it lasts) and light it in honor of a young life lost. One day, there will no longer be a need to light candles for tragedies such as this.

No matter who you are, no matter your religious or spiritual beliefs, remember that you are still a human being.

Blessed Samhain & Happy Halloween

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Today is Samhain. It is one of the most important of the 8 Sabbats as it is the Pagan New Year. The wheel of the year has turned full circle and a new year begins. The word ‘Samhain’ means Summers end. It is pronounced ‘Sowin’. Samhain is the third of the harvest festivals, only this isn’t a harvest of crops or grain, it is the harvest of flesh. It was the time of year when farmers and families would slaughter cattle and preserve the meat to last through the cold winter months. Samhain is a festival of death as it is the death of the year and of the waxing Sun. It is also the death of the earth when Plants, seeds, and acorns are now slowly descending underground to ready themselves to be reborn in Spring. Animals will start to hibernate, and the earth will appear barren as it sleeps through the winter months.
Earth energies are being pulled inwards at this time, and this is the time we should also be looking inwards at ourselves. Contemplate the year we have had and the lessons we have learned, whether they were good or bad, what can we take from them and use in the future. The God of the waxing Sun descends into the underworld opening up the veil between the two worlds of the living and the dead. At Samhain, spirits can commune with the living and visit us. We remember our ancestors, the people and pets who have died, and we honor them by placing pictures of them on our altars (you do not need an altar to be Wiccan) and invite them to join us. We should also adorn our altars with seasonal fare such as fallen leaves, twigs, acorns, nuts, turnips, and pumpkins and offer these as gifts to the Triple Goddess who is now in her crone phase. She is the wise, dark mother of knowledge and days past.

Although a time of death, Samhain is also a time of fresh starts and new beginnings. It is a time of ‘out with the old, in with the new’, to start looking forward to our future. On Samhain we should light a fire, as this is primarily a Celtic fire festival where the villagers and townsfolk would light giant bonfires to say goodbye to the God of the waxing Sun, and to thank the Goddess for her gifts bestowed upon the earth. There would also be big feast with stews, corn, and breads, and we would give thanks for people in our lives and show gratitude for all that we have, and give thanks to the people who are no longer with us and invite them to join us at the feast.

Light a candle tonight and put it, safely, near a window facing West to light the way for our lost loved ones and invite their spirits to visit us.

Today is a great time for divination, for doing tarot readings, looking to the future, and asking ourselves how we can improve our lives and move forward for the coming year.

Have a Blessed & Safe Samhain/Halloween.

*Written credit in full goes to Wicca Teachings*
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