Why Do We Write What We Write?

Might as well ask why we read what we read since for many of us they are inextricably linked.  We write what we enjoy reading.  I was reminded of this recently during two discussions with non romance readers.  The first one asked me to define exactly what sort of books I write, and if “romance” is a long story with some hand-holding, a short story with hot sex?  She went on to explain her local librarian has been trying to convince her to write what she calls a romance novel – sort of relationship in the 1800s with a sex scene thrown in about every 40 pages.  I sent her to RWA’s website for an idea of the professionalism involved in our genre, and had to point out her librarian is a literary bigot.
The second discussion was less abrasive.  A non romance reading friend read My Killer My Love, and was surprised how much she enjoyed it.  Up until now her opinion of romance hasn’t been very positive, and the idea of a heroine with glasses and a limp intrigued her.  She asked me what I would write next and how I decided what to write.
These past few months I’ve devoured books of all sorts.  I’ve read Jim Butcher’s entire Furies series along with the latest Harry Dresden.  I’ve enjoyed Tara Lain’s Beautiful Boys and Rebecca Forster’s chilling “Before Her Eyes.”  From the moment I first sat in the Emergency Room with my husband I’ve had a book or Kindle in my hand, and I’ve used the words of other writers to help me get through the days.  During procedures I filled my time and my worried mind with flights of fantasy and allayed my fears with tales of love everlasting.  The often silly, sometimes implausible plot points distracted me at times when I wasn’t ready to face the reality of our days.
Why do I write?  I write so someone else can have those few hours of immersion in a story.  I write so they can temporarily forget the stresses of their lives and briefly become a part of the lives I created in the pages of my book.  Perhaps some of us write to be the next Nora, the next Jayne Ann, but for the most part we write to share what we are with anyone willing to share the worlds we lived in for the months or years it took to create the story.
I write—we write—to give someone a distraction while waiting for news of the tests, or as they sit in another uncomfortable chair during procedures, wanting to be there when their loved one goes past, to let them connect with the world waiting for their return.  Those scenes and dialogue and setting pour out of our hearts onto the page, sometimes easily, sometimes with great effort, to be sucked up into the minds of readers and allow them a few moments to enjoy something other than the unrelenting sounds of a hospital.
I write because too many stories clamor in my head for release onto the screen.  And I guess I write because I can’t not write.


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9 responses to “Why Do We Write What We Write?

  1. Alysia

    Very well said, Mona.


  2. Great post, Mona. I’ve spent many hours at VA Hospital with my father while he received chemo. He falls asleep 😉 and I use the time to write and read. Spending any amount of time at a VA hospital, seeing all the men, women and their families dealing with their injuries, truly makes you stop and think.

    Even though the hustle and bustle and noise at the VA, I always came away happy with what I wrote. I’m not sure why. Maybe seeing all the poor souls in wheelchairs missing limbs, badly burned, etc., makes you realize how luck you are and thankful I’ve never had to see war first hand. I always felt inspired by the patients there.

    I’m glad reading and writing helped you through the difficult tests and days with your husband. I’m sending good thoughts to both of you.



    • Hospitals have their own music, don’t they? Wonder if I’ll get the sound of ventilators beep-beep out of my head. When I was very young my father was stationed in Japan, and we would go to the hospital in Yokosuka to visit. That, and the Punch Bowl cemetery in Hawaii, brought war home to me in a big way.


  3. Love the article. I agree 100%. That’s why I write too.


  4. This is so true, Mona! I write first because I love it and second to give someone else that escape, those few hours where the rent is not late, the dishes are not sitting in the sink, the laundry is not piled high. It’s just escape, a few minutes to enjoy.


  5. It’s funny. Before i became a novelist i used to go to movies to get that kind of total immersion that relieves stress. Now, i write. There’s nothing like submerging yourself in your characters’ world to take your mind off any troubles you have. Two years ago i was the one being prodded, cut up and medicated. All through the long time of recovery, i write! Thank you for a great post, Mona. And thank you for liking my Beautiful Boys. : )


  6. I so totally agree with your reasons for writing. Thanks for your great post.


  7. Mona,
    Thanks for stopping by and entering the EB contest. If you want to be considered please leave your email addy in the comment box.


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