I’m pleased to welcome Jan McDonald to the blog today telling us why she writes.
WHY DO WE WRITE?
I have often asked myself this question, usually in the middle of the night when I’m sitting at the keyboard yawning, and I guess there’s no straightforward answer. I can only answer for myself.
There is a myth abroad that writing for a living is a romantic, almost spiritual experience, with imagery of candles and keyboards and cats curled up on desks. It isn’t at all like that, it’s hard work and often unrewarding, especially when there is that one bad review among a host of good ones, and the only thing curled up on my desk is the sandwich I made for lunch and then forgotten about as I was intent on finishing the next chapter. So, the question remains, why do I do it?
Firstly, a very broad and unspecific answer is; I love it. I love to try and create a world peopled with characters that begin as strangers and eventually become almost ‘family’; caring about them, listening to their voices as they almost tell their own stories. No, it’s not time for the men in white coats; it’s what happens, really. I have given the characters a voice within a story and unless I ‘listen’ to them, I would probably end up with a story that had no depth, or sense of reality. Now, given that I write about the paranormal, that’s not always easy. 🙂
So, I write because I love it, which begs the question, why do I love it? The answer to that one is a little easier to answer. It’s because I love reading. I have always almost revered books, their feel, their smell, the anticipation of opening to the first page, and, of course, their content. My earliest happy memories as a child involve books; rag books progressing to cardboard books, and picture books. Winnie the Pooh, Alice, of course, and the ubiquitous Enid Blyton and her Faraway Tree absorbed me in my early childhood rather than dolls or other toys. If I was asked what I would like for a treat, it was always a book, any book, and there was always a treasure in my Christmas stocking.
Words to me are magical. They have power. The power to heal, to induce tears and laughter and to provoke thought. I have read the great, the good, and sometimes the not so good, all of which have inspired me to write; sometimes well and sometimes not so.
I remember the first thing I wrote. It was a short story, very short in fact. It was during a maths lesson at school, when faced with rudimentary mathematics, I switched off and instead of producing a column of neat figures, I wrote the story. I was sent to the headmaster expecting a telling off accompanied by a letter to my parents; instead I found myself in assembly reading it out. At the tender age of ten I knew what I wanted to do – I wanted to be a writer.
But life has a habit of taking us in different directions, and after careers and children I found myself in a world far removed from my original plan. But when I had to take early retirement due to a health issue it was a blessing, because now, I finally had the time to write ‘for real’, and it came as a huge surprise to me that others actually enjoyed reading what I had written!
I have always been intrigued by all things paranormal and those children’s books quickly gave way to the masters of the art; Edgar Allen Poe, M R James, H P Lovecraft and all the other guys in the band. So when it came to what to write, it was a no brainer.
I hope that I will always write, it’s when I am at my happiest, weaving a world from words that, hopefully, will entertain others. This is another answer to another question, why do I continue to write. It’s because there are lovely people out there that take the trouble to buy and read my books and appear to be enjoying them. Something that began as a way to satisfy a compulsion to write for my own pleasure, has become something that I find I can share.
The greatest gift I was given at an early age is the ability to read and therefore the ability to transport myself into far off worlds, adventures, sagas and books that make me laugh out loud, for which I am always grateful.
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