When we’re young we have dreams for our future. Not just any dreams, either, but BIG dreams. Take my 5-year-old, for instance. Sure, there are days he wants to be a garbage man, but he also wants to build robots for the Pentagon, own his own trucking company, and fly rockets into space in search of aliens. And he truly believes that he can. Because when you’re five, anything is possible.
Somewhere in the process of growing up dreams get blurred by “reality” and tend to slip further and further away. When I was five, I wanted to be a writer. I actually had visions of penning the great American novel for many years, until meetings with academic advisers and advice from teachers and professors steered me in a different direction.
You can’t just be a writer. You need something to fall back on.
Writing is more of a hobby. You need a real job, too.
Being a writer is hard. You have virtually no chance of ever getting published.
And so I became more of a realist. I got a degree in journalism with a specialty in English. I worked in advertising for a while, where I learned I didn’t want to work in advertising. I got a teaching degree. I taught high school for a while, where I learned that I actually kind of liked teaching high school. At one point I truly thought I’d be a teacher for the rest of my career.
But then my daughter Avery died, and my world imploded. Up became down, black became white, and, through my mourning and healing, the way I viewed life drastically changed. I taught for one year after Avery’s death, and then the 5-year-old in me, a precious voice I hadn’t heard in many years, began whispering. “Is this what you want to do for the rest of your life? Is this what truly makes you happy? What about your dreams?”
So I quit my job and started writing. But why? Why do I write? Fellow author and blogger Colleen Story gifted me this question as part of a recent blog tour. Colleen is an award-winning author of novels, poems, and short stories who writes imaginative fiction in both the young adult and adult literary genres. She’s also the founder of Writing and Wellness, a phenomenal site for authors and creative types that focuses on mental and physical wellness in the creative lifestyle.
So, after much speculation, here are the top five reasons I do what I do:
At first I started writing for myself, to make sense of the new normal I was faced with after losing Avery. Holding Avery began as therapy, but it soon turned into my daughter’s legacy, an assurance that she would never be forgotten. I also do a lot of writing to bring awareness to stillbirth. Before I lost Avery, I didn’t even know what stillbirth was because no one ever talked about it. In a way I feel like I was chosen to make some noise, to tell our story and make people start listening. And now, even though her story is published and told, she is still the inspiration behind my work.
I equate writing with exercise – if I don’t do it for a few days, I feel all out of sorts. Just getting words out on paper, whether it be a blog post or a few pages of my new novel, gives me clarity and makes me feel happy and alive.
Reason #3: Writing lets me touch people.
It’s one of the best feelings in the world to know that my words have the ability to touch others, to invoke emotion or promote change. Whenever I get an email from a reader about Holding Avery, it’s validation of my place in this world.
Writing is in my blood. I know that sounds a little crazy, but it’s true. Writing is a hunger I’d suppressed for many years, an innate yearning that I simply need to do. My husband always jokes that he’d love to crawl inside my brain for a day, because it’s stuffed full of plots and characters and ideas that I can’t wait to turn into stories. I used to think everyone’s brain worked like this, but apparently not!
The boys are still young, but as they grow up and face disappointments and cynics telling them you can’t do that, I want to be the person that lives yes, you can. I want them to know that there is nothing wrong with following their dreams, whatever they may be, and that anything is possible if they try.
And now, since this is a blog tour, I’d like to toss the torch over to my fellow author Elizabeth Brooks. Elizabeth grew up in Chester, England. In 2001 she graduated from Cambridge University with a first class degree in Classics. Since then she has lived on the Isle of Man with her husband and two children, where she writes and paints. Her first book, Montefiore’s Goddaughter was published in 2010. She is currently working on a historical time-slip novel called The Weir House.
Check out Elizabeth’s blog here, and find out why she does what she does!