“Scratch a writer and you’ll find a walker.”
~ Tegan Bennett
I have a confession to make. Sometimes, when I write, I cry. Not out of sadness but a deep passion. I have this strong desire to make a difference and a belief that words can change the world.
During my book signing at Barnes & Noble last Saturday, someone in the audience asked a simple question: “What inspired you to become an author?”
Honestly, I never intended to become an author. It happened because I had a story in my heart after becoming a mother. It took at least eight years to write my debut while raising my son. My sequel involved two years of full-time dedication writing intensely, including attending weekly writers circle meetings and slogging through edits then more edits suggested by my editor and the group.
Writing a book is extremely hard. Sitting down to brainstorm, write, edit, rewrite, cut, add, and rewrite can be an endless process. It’s grueling work. “Finished” is a matter of letting go. How many drafts can I really write?
At times I’d rather be out walking, skiing, hiking, paddle boarding, kayaking, and other activities in nature. Okay, that’s a long list, but did I mention stalking hummingbirds? I had written many articles published in technology magazines during my high-tech marketing career, but never a novel. What happened?
The first few moments of my son’s life completely changed my perceptions of the world. It was colored more beautiful while enlightening me to danger. While holding my baby and seeing a climate march or the intensity of our political media hit the screen, it struck me. Words are more powerful than weapons.
How one small human can change another human so profoundly is amazing. Seriously, if you want to find inspiration to try to change the world with words, just become a parent later in life. The capacity for empathy expands beyond that can fit into any heart.
Words can be loving, inspiring and uplifting, adding value to the world. Or they can be hateful and deceiving, setting the world on fire. The political media is, and always has been, tainted with lies, now more than ever spreading irrational fear. But we might want to care more about who is saying or writing the words that are triggering the hate and violence.
Even certain national anthems (including our own) spread ancient words glorifying violence. Words that don’t sit pretty with contemporary American characters seeking peace. I write with mindful compassion.
Just as we’ve come to realize the children’s rhyme, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” is untrue, ditto with many words used to glorify or create wars.
I like to think of my prose as an attempt at political satire. Indeed, I strive to inject more humor into my writing. To put the funny into fiction. I mock the harmful words used within the global political twister of a system itself, in an effort to achieve social change for our children. World peace.
I write because I wish to paint the world with words of tenderness and affection. Truth and empathy. Like an artist that uses a paint palette to choose colors, the words a writer uses become the medium to create a world we desire. In this, writing makes me happy.
When the story comes alive on paper, it breathes within me. My characters, even though imagined, become real. Like watching a movie, writing is therapy.
But writing doesn’t come easy for me. I often need to walk away, for days, maybe weeks. This is when I am most inspired to create a plot or subplot. I get grounded in nature with my husband and son, camping, biking, traveling all over California and across the country.
When in nature, I find the words to write about the surreal beauty that surrounds me living in California. Even though I’m not sitting for hours buckled over my laptop and notebooks with my head and neck twisted into all kinds of uncomfortable contortions, I am “writing” in my mind. Yoga helps with getting the flow of words onto paper, clears my head and encourages creativity.
And really … walking away to spend lots of time with my only child helps my writing. After all, he is the reason I write! Just when I think I can’t continue plugging away with my stories, I get encouragement from people and it makes writing harder. Harder to quit.
Entire plots have been mapped out on my walks. It doesn’t surprise me that such amazing work has been delivered by avid walkers: Ernest Hemingway, Charles Dickens, and Henry David Thoreau to name a few.
I WILL get back to writing my trilogy, and slog through the third installment that seems stalled with this beautiful but busy thing called life itself. My books are a small part of my life, but they bring forth a story straight from my heart. Here’s to changing the world, one book at a time!