Why I Write (Hint – it Begins with Reading)

Updated: 5/28/2022

In third grade, I read a Judy Blume book that blew my nine-year-old mind. While I don’t remember which one it was, I do remember the gripping and wonderfully immersive feeling I had. I began to understand the captivating power of reading. I had read other books, almost certainly required reading, and had made no connection to any, only having a desire to finish and move on. But when I was reading the Judy Blume story of a girl who was around my age having similar issues that I had, yet set in a different place and family environment, I was transported. It validated the struggles I had, while at the same time taking me to a different place – lifting me out of myself. Living in someone else’s shoes was such a unique experience, I absolutely loved it, and I was hooked.

My appetite for books increased. In my late teens and early twenties, I read Stephen King and Dean Koontz almost exclusively. Then a completely different genre grabbed my interest. Chesapeake by James Michener was so different from anything I had read and the lyrical writing was sublime. The long, detailed painting of scenes was utterly new and mesmerizing. I had, like all American kids, studied the history of slavery and the civil war in high school. But Chesapeake soaked stories into me, and I thought about those people and their lives long after finishing the book. I went on to read Alaska, which was equally compelling. Today, living in the northwest, I can appreciate Michener’s stories of prospectors, adventurers, and others who stopped in Seattle. Most only for a night or two, to provision. Others found their home here, indelibly changing the area forever.

My late teens and early twenties were spent reading espionage/spy novels. The Bourne and Mortalis series in addition to countless other spy books were quickly polished off. Eventually, the genre began to look the same, and it was time to change.

Fantasy is a large genre with many sub-genres: young adult, middle grade, high fantasy, dragons (ok, not an actual genre, but should be), steampunk, dark fantasy and so much more. On the tail of CS Lewis’s “The Chronicles of Narnia”, I fell into Middle Earth in JRR Tolkien’s “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings”. Wanting more, I went on to read “The Silmarillion”. Bordering on obsession I even read articles and biographies of JRR Tolkien. Another notable series I’ve read, twice, is “The Wheel of Time”. The first eleven books were written by Robert Jordan. He passed away writing the twelfth book whereupon Brandon Sanderson took up the mantle, finishing the twelfth and writing two more to complete the story. A truly epic series. This is how I discovered Brandon Sanderson and added his break-out series, “Mistborn”, to my favorites. I can’t tell you how often I genuinely wished I could be transported to some of these worlds/dimensions, even as a wallflower, and watch the story play out. I didn’t want the “Harry Potter” series to end, having formed an attachment to Harry and the gang. This often made for bittersweet endings. “Lord of the Rings”, “Harry Potter”, and other books/series have taken a little piece of my heart with them and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Somewhere in that timeline, I began to think that I too could craft at least one good fantasy. I took a writing class at the local community college and began writing something, anything, daily. Eventually, I took the plunge and began writing a fantasy novel. Although I had the bones of a great story, I realized I needed to work on my writing and story skills first. I shelved the book and began working on getting that writing experience. My writing has continued with occasional stops. This blog too, is part of that growth.

Additionally, writing is often inspired by, at least in part, visiting historical places. Traveling is a passion for so many, and it’s not hard to see why. To see remnants of history, experience other cultures, and meet people thousands of miles away is, at a minimum, enriching. For many, it’s life-changing. When I toured the Colosseum in Rome, it wasn’t hard to envision the people who would have been in the seats, the gladiators on the amphitheater floor, and the chained, in the dark and grim floors below.  The strife of the convicted and decadence of the entitled. The bloody battles that raged, the crowd roars of approval, and boos of dissent brought this ancient relic to life right before my eyes. This was and is a place that oozes inspiration, begging to be part of a story. Stories where it’s hard to know the good from the bad. Where your heart drops when the protagonist character whom you’ve grown to like, has setbacks and failures. Stories where your heart exults, when a protagonist overcomes and triumphs, to become the champion that was foretold. Always in an unpredictable manner that found you slack-jawed at times and in spine-tingling expectation at others, before that final page was turned.

There are many stories that have been told. Yet there are still more stories, inspired by life, by places, by imaginations, just percolating to be fleshed out and told.