Wednesday, January 18, 2006

I Write Because

I've read lots of author bios online and almost every one has a comment about why they write.

Some write because they read something and thought "I can do better."

Others write because they've always had voices in their heads.

Still others write not because they think "I can do better," but because they think "I can do this too."

I started writing many years ago and stopped. Marriage and motherhood and jobs just got in the way. Or rather, I let them get in the way. Then a few years ago I discovered an online group that revolved around an old television show from the 90's, Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. Aside from message board posts about the actors who portrayed Lois Lane and Clark Kent, there was a section called fanfiction. What the heck was fanfiction?

I soon learned that it is stories penned by fans of the show and that revolve around the show's characters. People take the universe that's been created and the show's characters and write their own scenarios.

I read some that were very good. I read some that were very bad. And I thought "I can do that too." My first fanfic was a Valentine story. I also wrote one about Christmas and one where Clark Kent posed for a beefcake calendar. Another story was written in the form of diary entries by Clark Kent's mother. This fandom has its own yearly awards with nominations and voting and an online awards ceremony.

Of course, some consider fanfiction to be the little red-haired bastard stepchild of writing. After all, you've let someone else create the universe and characters, complete with goal, motivation and conflict. But I know of two published authors (one by Zebra and the other by Avon) who used to write stories for the same message boards that I did.

Then the unthinkable happened. Someone began posting a serialized story that was REALLY good. Almost TOO good. And it wasn't long before someone recognized it as a book from Harlequin/Silhouette with just the character names changed. When we looked into this person's backlist of fanfictions, we discovered more plagiarized work and she was banned from the message boards.

Another unthinkable thing happened. I read my first romance novel after I was asked to track down the plagiarized book and verify that indeed this wasn't the fanfic author's original work. After I read the first one, I wanted to read more. I discovered author websites and author chats and found out that my own area was home to several very famous romance authors. I read their books and more and pretty soon fanfiction lost its luster and I began to believe "I can do that too."

I found out about Romance Writers of America and joined my local chapter. I've attended two national conferences and the workshops that go along with them. I've read books on writing. I've done writing exercises. And I've started two novels -- started being the objective word.

The one thing I have not done is give up. A friend told me recently that when she went off to college, her father told her "Rock, as you go through life and attack your goals, keep your eye upon the donut and not upon the hole."

Great advice, huh? I need to start focusing on that donut and not what's missing from the middle.

Why do YOU write?

On a completely unrelated note, today's my mother's birthday.

Your gift is on the way, Mom. I was late mailing it because I was in another town eating Krispy Kreme doughnuts and staying next door to a meth lab. ;-)


Problem Child said...

Happy birthday PM's mom!

We can explain about the meth lab. See, we were on this trip...

(Who has spent most of her life explaining to HER mother why things weren't what they appeared to be.)

Instigator said...

Happy Birthday PM's Mom!

I was one of those that got fed up while reading a book and thought, "I can do this."

Boy was I a little shocked when I figured out how difficult it really was. But during that learning process I realized that I'm no longer writing because I can. I'm writing because I want to. Because the imagination that used to get me in trouble now has an outlet. I finally found where I belong. And that's a wonderful feeling.


Angel said...

I've spent my entire life making up stories in my head. As an avid reader, I'd imagine myself as one of the characters. I'd imagine what happened after the end of the book. I'd imagine what would happen if... And I spent my life ashamed of living inside my head.

Until a friend took me to a women's conference where a published author spoke on writing, whether professionally or for personal enjoyment. There I learned that I had an active imagination for a reason: I'm a writer.

Imagine that!


Smarty Pants said...

I've just always written. I can remember pegging away one key at a time on this old portable typewriter when I was 8 years old. I just had to do it. Back then, the stories were just for me, it wasn't until I was a teenager that I started writing with the idea that I might get published someday. Until about 2 years ago, it was still just a pipe dream. Now I can taste it!

PM's Mother said...

I'll forgive you, but only if you ate a Krispy Kreme in my honor. It has been s-o-o-o-o long since I have had a really fresh KK donut. In the words of Andy Taylor they are g-o-o--o-d!

Your Mother

Smarty Pants said...

Hey, we got a mom to post! Awesome! Hi PM's Mom! Happy Birthday. I ate several KK doughnuts, so I'm more than happy to donate one in your honor. :)


marilynpuett said...

She commented on Angel's post too. Uh... Electric Circus? What Electric Circus?

*looks around innocently*

Instigator said...

We will be witholding KK the next time we road trip unless PM shares. (where's my evil smiley when I need it?)