What the Heck am I Writing?

A good friend of mine shared with me the news she’s writing a book. And she’s so shy that to even have mentioned her peripherally in this post might be making her blush. But she’s also very smart. And I was thrilled to hear she’s undertaking this most admirable of adventures — to explore and enchant with the written word.

writing

She knows I’ve written some children’s books. And she was one of the more influential persons I spoke with in my own tumbling decision on whether or not to self-publish. I’m so happy Sometimes the Moon is now “out there.”

My other children’s books are making their way through the system. I have Threesday all set and ready to go, another book that needs a bit of reworking; as in it’s completely finished, but I want to change some things, and a companion toΒ Sometimes the MoonΒ is written and half-illustrated.

More than enough books right now to keep me busy.

But they’re not.

Busy I am! Busy with raising a five- and a six-year-old, busy with the trappings and trimmings and tantrums that come with a cross-country move (okay, the tantrums are mine), and busy with more ideas than I can hold in my hat, and I don’t wear a hat.

Thus is the fate of the writer. The ideas. The ideas that will trumpet you awake at 4 AM, or restrain you from sleeping until 2 AM so that any kind of AM between 12 and 6 becomes a mire of undeniable attractiveness to a sleep-addled brain and things like whether or not my main character’s name begins with an A or an E become a Rube Goldberg machine of complications and cohorts and challenges and creativity.

Ahh. There’s the word. Creativity.

Such is the power — to create! Such is the liberation, to see a world emerge from the ether. Such is the joy, and the sadness to follow our characters on their journeys which inexplicably puzzle and surprise even us, their creators.

Though I am working on my children’s books right now, I really did write them just for my own children. Never with the intent to “go big or go home.” To be honest, each sale actually surprises me. And perhaps the most “it’s really out there” moment came from a fellow blogger, Karen at FolkHaven, which you can read about soon.

Yet I never set out to be a children’s book writer. I set out to be a writer. A storyteller. And even “set out” is an improper use of that phrase. Rather, writing compelled me like a tractor beam to its warm and emotionally charged interior wherein I might discover not only new compendiums of characters, but myself.

As such, my books, like all writers’ books, are a reflection of myself, by the pure inescapable fact I’m the one who wrote them. Not surprisingly, when I left the world of crime reporting, I dove into a novel about crime reporting. A mystery, based so much on my days chasing after cops and courtrooms. When I became a mother I began a new period novel about, yes, motherhood. And as everyone loves a good mystery, I’m also working on a novel with a bit of a historical edge to it. And to add to the flotsam drifting along the edges of my brain like seaweed on the shore, earlier this year I began a young adult series.

And of course, I write this blog.

Am I alone? In my piling of projects? Not at all! Far from it. Most writers I know (all) have at least one unfinished or unapproved manuscript in a drawer. If they don’t, they are simply new writers.

So when someone asks me “What are you writing?” I laugh. Which is weird, but that’s how I am. Then I smile real big as I try to sum up what I know they are hoping will be a one-word answer. “Mysteries.” “A love story.” Something easily digestible in casual conversation.

But the truth is, I’m a writer. That’s all. Plain and simple as defining the cosmos.

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17 thoughts on “What the Heck am I Writing?

  1. Your words and voice have touched me from the moment I discovered your blog last fall! Thank you! πŸ™‚ All the best to you along your journey!

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    1. Thank you! I suppose I should have clarified that being a stay-at-home mom means that although I am “writing” all these books right now, there are days, weeks, really entire months that go by when I don’t add a word. But the ideas percolate around in my brain, and I know when the time is right I will finish them.

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    1. Amen to that, Vicky. We are beyond lucky, us writers. And if we do it right, our readers are lucky as well. I know I sure have enjoyed your posts, and so many of them stick with me long after I read them. You have a real talent for capturing family dynamics in an honest and humorous way.

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  2. Melissa, I wonder if all writer share the same passion for writing!
    “The ideas that will trumpet you awake at 4 AM, or restrain you from sleeping until 2 AM” -I find this line perfectly describe your love and passion for writing.
    I remember few months back when I was sitting alone and one of my friend asked me “why are you doing nothing and sitting idol”; I smiled and asked him not to disturb me. He left the place wondering how he disturbed me, as I was doing noting at that time. He could not realize that, a person who loves writing works only when he thinks what he will write next. After that, it is not a tough job to get those thoughts out on papers. πŸ™‚
    Good luck to you with all your books. You are a wonderful writer and I am sure each of your books is going to receive great response from your readers.

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    1. Thank you for your support, Arindam! My books will make it out there when the time is right. The real value for me is in the creation of the books themselves. I do want to publish them, someday, but I am in no rush to make that happen. When I was in my 20s I remember reading that an author I was avidly enjoying at the time, Michael Crichton, published his first novel in his 20s, and I was beyond determined to do the same. And though I did have a finished novel in my hands in my 20s, and I did get some great feedback from a well-known agent inviting me to make some tweaks and resubmit, life took over and I became a mom. I couldn’t be more pleased with this turn of events. It took me a while to come to grips that my writing would now be something purely on the periphery of my life, as it is something so central to my happiness. But we all make choices in life, and the way things are now is the best way for me. So yes, it will be a while before I have anything longer than a children’s book ready to go! But for now, I am lucky to count on people like you for support, and for my blog to keep my writing in shape.

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  3. You are indeed a writer. This was such an enjoyable read.

    I write, but I’m not a writer. This is a distinction I have difficulty explaining to others. Whenever a true writer has the generosity of spirit to describe her or his journey and process, I’m genuinely fascinated.

    I think it’s because of my background *teaching* writing that I often find myself asking these things of experienced writers. When I become aware that I’m doing so, I feel nosy and probing. I’m grateful that you shared this freely.

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    1. Hippie, I’m the one who’s grateful that you took the time to read and leave such a nice comment! And if you ask me, you are a writer. You have a great blog, and you think about writing, and you ask questions about writing — I bet there is a book in you. Many people circle around the idea of labeling themselves as writers because they don’t feel they’ve “earned” it. That’s how I was for a long time. When I was a reporter, I worked, I got paid, there was “proof.” But writing takes such a long time to evolve in any sort of public fashion if you’re not getting paid that it lends itself to this idea of nobility. That someone lowly like me couldn’t possibly be an actual writer. I couldn’t disagree more! If you are circling, too, I hope you land and go ahead and adopt that label. If, however, you are sure you’re not itching to pen something — then I will do my best to catch up with your distinction. πŸ™‚

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    1. Charlie, you are right on the money with those animal crackers! When I am shopping with the kids and they need a little snack to keep going, those little red boxes with the string handles are the first things I reach for! What a source of fun and comfort.

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  4. You say it all and you say it well – that we write what we are compelled to write and the variety can be puzzling. Congratulations on coping with the “pile ups” of things to do raising your sweet family and kudos for all your books and projects that let your talents escape and the words to flow.

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    1. Dor, you always say the sweetest things! And boy did you hit it right on the money with the books and projects letting my “talents escape and the words to flow.” I think that is the case for all creative people, and why we entertain so many projects at once! These ideas need to escape. πŸ™‚ I know you understand, fellow creative-spirit.

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  5. I sometimes envy those methodical people who can focus on one project, complete it, and move to the next item on the list. But no matter how sloppy or chaotic it feels, whatever you’re doing seems to be working. Keep up the great work.

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