In my small Midwestern hometown, there were two things that people talked about a lot: football and farming. But for me, almost every sport was dodgeball, because I always ended up getting hit by the ball, even when I was watching the game. In an attempt to fit in, I joined the track team. They put me in the relay race first, but I kept accidentally tripping the other girls, including the runners on my own team. It was like watching a stack of human dominoes fall over. The coach finally had me running the half mile, so that I would be by myself and thus decrease the likelihood of knocking anyone over. But I came in last in almost every race, except for one race where I came in second to last.
When I wrote, I didn't have to worry about people making fun of the fact that I couldn't run very fast, except when I was running away from the ball. I didn't have to worry about being picked last for the team. None of my main characters in my stories are athletes.
When I was younger, I wanted to believe that the fantasy worlds that writers created were real. I wanted to believe that the people in fairy tales really existed, and that there was such a thing as a happy ending. I wanted to believe that there was something else out there, something more for me.
When I wrote, I could escape to a different world that was all my own, away from the kids who made fun of me or ignored me at school, away from their parents who made comments to my parents about how I was so shy and quiet and read too much, away from the town that was my home but where I never really fit in. I could create my own world with my own characters, and I could write my own happy ending. In my world, I always had the last word.
In high school, the guys teased me, ignored me, or asked me for help with their homework. When everyone else went to prom, I went to Dairy Queen. I pretended that it didn't hurt me when my friends told me all about prom night and showed me pictures of themselves with their dates. I wrote down everything that I felt and everything that I didn't have the courage to say to everyone else.
I grew older, and I started writing chick lit. I used my own failed attempts at finding love as the basis for my stories. I wrote about the bad dates and the guys who didn't call. I wrote about wanting to punch the TV whenever one of those online dating commercials that featured happy couples came on. I wrote about the guy who posted a picture of himself French-kissing a giraffe (I wish I was making that up) in his online dating profile, the guy who wrote that he believed he was a cat in a former life, and the guy who wrote that he was looking for "an exceptionally beautiful woman with a morally relaxed attitude towards dating". In real life, these guys were just weird...or disturbing. But writing about them made the whole experience of online dating funny and more interesting.
After I got my master's degree, I started teaching at different schools around the city and working in retail at night and on the weekends. It left little time for a social life. But at least once or twice a week I would go to a coffeehouse and write for an hour or two. It was something that was just for me, and it was a relief to write fiction after spending hours grading papers or making lesson plans. I wrote about how overwhelmed and exhausted I felt about working seven days a week, and I wrote about how I felt like my twenties were passing me by. Those trips to the coffeehouse gave me something to look forward to, and my writing kept my work from completely taking over my life.
If I had never become a writer, or if I had stopped writing years ago, my life would be completely different. I would be completely different. It would always feel like something was missing from my life. That's why I can't stop writing. I don't want to stop.
What about you? Why do you write? What motivates you to keep writing?
Side note: Check out Theresa Milstein's blog, Theresa's Tales of Teaching Tribulations and Typing Teen Texts! She is hosting a Halloween Haunting; this contest gives people the opportunity to promote their own blogs and check out other people's blogs. The prize is a free book!
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