Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Why are you a writer?

Why are you a writer? Why aren’t you a pianist, a speed skater, a waitress, an elephant trainer or a fanatical house keeper?
Has being a writer always been a dream you are incredibly enthusiastic about or are you just giving it a go?
What is a writer in your own words? Are you a Writer or a writer?
How did you become a writer? Was it a teacher who excited you about writing or something you did in math class as an alternative to running screaming from the room? Was it an excellent book you read that motivated you? Which book?
Does reading make you write? Change your way of looking at dreams? Exercise your brain? Make you fall in love with a hero? Wish the heroine was a friend?
I have written since public school. Mostly, I wrote letters to relatives I had never met - a great aunt in England and a great uncle in South Africa. I wanted to know things about them, and of course, told them all about me - which was no doubt made them chuckle.
By highschool, I had to write every day at the sharp end of the pointers of an English grammar and literature teacher and a History teacher. If I had to write a story about what I did that summer, I might as well make it interesting, if not fictional.
History turned me on. If I read about a historical figure, I just had to tell somebody all I found fascinating about that figure. That, I enjoyed. Fortunately, I had those two teachers nearly every year and they encouraged me to write, write, write. A heavy dose of grammar and Miss Forth's demand that I get to know historical figures personally made an infinite difference in my writing. Because I was reasonably good at writing, I had to write essays on all the topics, while the other students got to pick a limited number from the list. (Good in retrospect only).
A Grade 13 Latin teacher told me that if I memorized the entire set of verb forms at the back of the book for the next day, she would teach me Latin. I needed Latin lit and Latin grammar (two courses then) to enter university. (I was especially motivated because the alternatives were trigonometry and chemistry). But it was Mrs. Sharpe who supported me and showed me how to find out what was in the works of Roman writers and how to use what I learned in Latin grammar to improve my writing.
I truly owe those three teachers!
Since writing was what I did best, I leaned more and more toward it. In university, I hated English classes and loved Geology but eventually ended up in Journalism School since knowing the difference between sandstone and limestone wasn’t going to use much writing skill.
Eventually, I became a journalist. I loved it! I got to ask people a zillion questions about themselves. A managing editor once said I was a teacher and actually, helping people understand was a real motivation in writing about crime and justice.
In grade two, our teacher insisted we read with expression. That had an odd result. Later, as a mother of four, I started reading dozens of folk tales and then telling them, with a great deal of acting and expression, in our kids’ classrooms. (I’ll have you know I do a damn good dragon!) I did it for years and eventually had my own Global television show. The best part was that I was helping kids learn story lines and to read. That 'read with expression echo' from the past was motivating kids to read today; to learn that reading didn’t need to be boring at all if one put a little umph into it. They liked it when a story wasn’t ‘flat line’. The teachers thought it was the best assistance to helping kids like writing and reading.
I wrote a book because Maggie Siggins and a publisher asked me to and I was bitten by the book bug. But, I liked telling stories better than writing creative non-fiction, so I am now giving romance writing a try. Besides, it is lovely to have a goodlooking, sexy guy in my life (in addition to Husband of course).
I am a journalism and non-fiction writer because I like it and I am very good at it. I am a fiction writer because I want to learn its secrets.
Why are you a writer?

24 comments:

Christopher Goodwine said...

Because I have an overactive imagination. ^_^

That and BOY do I love books!

Yunaleska said...

Because my characters are real, and threaten me with violence if I don't let their voices be heard. Plus they'll talk so loud I can't get any sleep :)

Silver James said...

The voices in my head left me with no choice. And I hate housework. *bwahaha* Even so, I've managed to be a horse trainer, government official, military officer's wife, fire chief, crime analyst and police technical investigator, mother, Search-and-Rescue team member, softball coach, ad infinitum ad nauseum. After all, I needed something to write about, right?

Great post, Connie.

Karyn Good said...

I write because I feel it is what I must do and because I love words and books.

I can't remember a time when I didn't love to read and in school I enjoyed writing but it wasn't until a couple of years ago I decided to stop making excuses for why I couldn't possibly be a writer and find some reasons why I could.

Great post, Connie.

Erika said...

I'm a writer because the voices won't stop until I put them on paper. My overactive imagination helps, but mostly I want the voices to stop.

Anita Mae Draper said...

I enjoyed the post and I'm enjoying the comments, too. :)

I first wrote poetry. Rhyming poetry as opposed to prose. I liked the cadence and structure of it. Trying to fit words into a structure. If it didn't fit, I'd toss it and find a synonym that did. Or, I'd change the structure to match the word. Like a puzzle. It all had to fit perfectly.

I have no idea why I started to write fiction. I just did as a young teenager. I read a lot and then I wrote. A natural progression.

Now, I write because my head is filled with stories I think others would like to read. As I've been blessed from books written by others, I want to pass on my stories as well. It wasn't always like that. Before when I'd get ideas, I'd write them down in a special folder and forget about them. But as I've grown older, I realize what a precious gift I've been given. I know because others have told me I have the gift of storytelling. And I firmly believe there's a reason I was given that gift. What a waste if I don't use it.

And Silver, love that 'research' list of accomplishments. :)

You reminded me of something - for many years in the military, I didn't write and yet I just remembered an instance when the RCMP phoned and asked me to be a chaperone/guard to a female prisoner and I jumped at the chance. Hubby was a military policeman and advised me not to go because I'd just be babysitting a drunk in the 'tank'. But my response to him was I could use the research for a book some day. So even in all those 25 yrs when I wasn't writing, I was still thinking about it.

Great post, Connie.

Janet C. said...

Thanks for joining us, Christopher - good to see new faces here on The Prairies :)

Like Silver, I've had my stint at a variety of life experiences - photo developer (long before 'instant' imaging), engraver, retail clerk/manager, teacher (grades 1-6, plus some junior high stuff), deli clerk, bakery clerk, accounts payable clerk, housesitter.

Through all of that, I've written. Bits and pieces, longer stuff, journals, short stories, poetry (poorly). My head would explode if I didn't get the stuff down on paper to clear room for the next batch of imagined characters and plot.

Great post, Connie.

Ban said...

I hated writing in school - HATED it - with a passion. Reports, essay, outlines etc. so bland, so boring, so ... ick ! 'Course I didn't much like the one or two 'creative writing' assignments I had either. I was always a big reader, I still am but the writing bug didn't hit me until after school. It started with a dream, a very vivid dream and from there, it developed into a scene, then a plot, an outline, some chapters ... you can see where this is going. To make matters worse, I got more dreams (some while still awake :) and then some more - all of which are summarized in dozens of little notebooks. So am I a writer ? Yes, but I wouldn't call myself a Writer - not yet. Maybe someday, if I ever finish my main WiP, I'll consider it.

Janet C. said...

Do I have to send Captain Achiever over there ban? You are a writer (capital W or small). Don't forget that.

Sorry for the interruption - back to our regularly scheduled comments :)

Anita Mae Draper said...

Oh, thank you Janet. I was trying to find a way to say it without sounding preachy, but you've used tact as usual. (A trait I am sorely lacking.)

Go, Captain Achiever!

Ban said...

sheesh, first erika now you all - BICHOK !!! *love you gals*

Jana Richards said...

Why am I a writer? Because I can't not be. I want to tell stories.

I didn't start out that way. Writers were people who lived some place else, not on a farm in Saskatchewan. They knew lots of stuff about everything. That wasn't me.

But eventually, well into adulthood, I figured out that it didn't matter where I lived or what I knew. It only mattered that I had a story to tell. That's why I'm a writer.

Jana

connie said...

Dear Christopher,
Welcome!
No such thing as an overactive imagination - just lots more stuff to write about later.
I wonder what people with underactive imaginations, or worse, no imagination at all (I know such a person) think about.
Yes. Books!!
Hope to see you on this page again soon. There is a fresh blog on here everyday.
Thanks for commenting
connie

connie said...

Yunaleska,
I know what you mean. Mine start as soon as I go to bed. Luckily, some are boring enough to put me to sleep.
For the last six months or so I have had to READ my dreams. Either I am taking this writer biz too seriously or I have been taken over by a long dead writer. Actually, he isn't very good and he writes small.
connie

connie said...

Silver James,
WOW!
I'd love a chance to read some of your stuff.
Now that's a background!
Thank heaven for the little voices - especially the ones that tell you the housework will be there tomorrow....
connie

connie said...

Karyn,
I really like this spelling.
I am very glad you decided to find reasons why you could be a writer.
I cannot understand people who don't read.
Even my three sons, who were too cool to be seen dead with a book when they were teens, are now readers. If I accomplish nothing else in this world, I'll always be glad that they love books too.
connie

connie said...

Erika,
No. No. No. Don't let the voices stop. Without them, there would be no writers and we can't do without you!
connie

connie said...

Anita Mae,
Right. It is a gift and we have to use it. Remember the parable about the three servants? I'd like to be the first, or even the second but I'd hate to have to acount for being number three.
I have a terrible memory but things like your female prisoner story have been tucked away and lucky for me, they emerge as needed.
Meanwhile, I have sewn name tags in all my clothes...
connie

connie said...

Hi Janet!
We don't want YOUR head to explode! Take a journal, a tape recorder or, if the only option, old envelopes - and keep writing all across Canada. Lucky maritimers.
connie

connie said...

Dear Ban,
What a great way to get started!
That was a little sneaky I snuck into the blog. You are supposed to say you are a Writer, which you are. Great grocery lists are written by 'writers'.
What is the first wip about? You've got me really curious
connie

connie said...

Don't ban Ban!
Janet and Anita put it nicely.
Honest, you don't want Captain Achiever over there. Honest.
WWWWWWWWWW
connie

connie said...

Jana,
And a darned good one too.
Some things just have to be, thank goodness, so we're Writers. Lots of stories out there to be told. We'll never run out.
I always thought Writers were either pipe-smoking-bearded-men or elegant women writing at their elegant rosewood desks.
May be. But not me.
connie

connie said...

I spent a couple of days at the cabin with Oldest Son.
He said he had always been proud of me as a Writer. Critics - don't even TRY to top that one. It means more to me than anything any critic could ever say.
connie

Ban said...

Sure I can - My 6 year old told me I write 'the bestest stories ever' and she's never read any of them ! Oh and I write fantasy with a touch of romance. You can see some of my stuff over on my blog :) thanks for asking.