Monday, July 25, 2011

Why I Write

I was walking my son home from school. He was about nine years old at the time. We passed by a freestanding kiosk that contained brocures from Gotham Writers Workshop. I grabbed a brocheure and we continued on our way.

"What's that?" my son asked.

"It's a brochure for writing classes."

"Why did you take one?"

"Because I'm thinking of taking a class."

"Why would anyone choose to take a class that didn't have to take one?"

I considered going into all the details. As much as I loved the luxury of not having to work, and being able to spend so much time with him, I felt as if my brain was turning into the consistency of overcooked oatmeal. I was trying to figure out some way of proving to myself that my gray matter was still a working organ.

"I always enjoyed writing when I went to school," I told him instead. "I thought it might be fun."

We arrived home where I stuck the brochure in a pile somewhere and completely forgot about it, perhaps out of fear that my creativity had disappeared right along with my pre-child freedom.

Several months later, while sipping coffee and watching my son joyously open his gifts on Christmas morning, he handed me a gift from him. It was a flat package. I opened it to find a Gotham writers Workshop brochure with a note enclosed; Pick out any class. Love Adam.

Not only did I find it incredibly sweet that he had remembered, but now I was forced to take a writing workshop. I didn't want to let him down.

Was it scary taking a writing class for the first time in a million years? Absolutely!
Did I love it? Definitely.

That first class was five years ago. I've taken many more since then.
I recently completed my first 277 page novel.
Was that writing class the best gift I've ever received? Aside from my son Adam, positively.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Why I write

In JM’s initial blog entry, I am the one peering out of car windows and into home windows, making up stories about the people inside. I am wondering what their hopes and dreams are. I am making up stories about where they will be going tomorrow or about the city from which they have just returned.

Usually I was in the car with my dad. My dad worked two jobs so most of our time together and most of the parenting he did (and, of course, in those days no one talked about parenting at all), was done while doing errands or being driven to school or a friend’s home. I would ask him, “Did you see that man and woman in the garden, Dad? Did you see how they were talking, like they were mad at each other? I think…,” and I would tell him a long, rambling story.

Now as far as I know, my dad’s seafaring adventures were limited to a rowboat on Lake Erie, but he would usually nod approvingly, and say, “That’s a darn fine yarn. You should write it down.”

When he would come home from work, I would fly down the driveway to say hello, to get a kiss and tell him what I had been working on, and he would nod solemnly and say, “That’s a fine yarn too. Did you write it down?”

Then, one Saturday, he built a tree house and said it was my writer’s retreat. With a new notebook and a garland of pencils, I entered my first office, my first retreat, my dad’s vote of confidence in my abilities.

This is part of why I write, and definitely why I encourage everyone here to keep writing. Get it on paper, capture those characters you create, love, and at times, despise. Tell their stories, even if they do things that you would rather they didn’t, even if they do things that you know will lead to their unhappiness. Get it on paper. Tell their stories, make up entire worlds of yesterday or tomorrow and I know it will be a darn good yarn.