Why I Write and the Reason I’m Still Sane
I’m often asked why I started writing, and why write in general.
The obvious answer would be money, since I currently write for a living. But I used to run a restaurant for a living, and it was a very good living. I also built and sold two other businesses, both of which comfortably earned 6-figure annual incomes. In that time I wrote too. Writing was definitely extra effort when many times I was working 100+ hours a week between the two companies I owned.
Why on earth would I put myself through the extra effort of writing?
I have stories I want to tell…
I’ve always had a vivid imagination. I used to perform plays in the backyard with my dogs. I had my own circus. I told outrageous stories for fun. My imagination ran wild. As I got older, it didn’t change. I’d read a novel and think of a dozen other ways to tell the story. I’d see a shoe on the side of the road and make up a story as to how it got there. And then characters started occupying my brain. No longer were they just stories, there were people in the stories. They talked to me. No, not like crazy talk, but they’d tell the stories. I wanted to share the stories my brain wouldn’t let go of.
I get to escape the real world…
My first series, the Gotcha Detective Agency mysteries, is set in my hometown of Salinas, California. When I started writing the series, I lived in Iowa. For years I’d been homesick, and when I write the novels for Gotcha, I’m back home again. Granted, it’s the home I remember from twenty years ago, but in my mind I’m back in Salinas. And to make sure I get the details right, I am in contact with my sister, who lets me know the hookers no longer hang out on Soledad Street, they’ve moved to John Street. Oh, the things I get to learn about Salinas.
When I write my Willa Friday series, I’m making up my own world, but I get to research two things very near and dear to my heart: good food and good wine. If only I could get wine companies to send me samples so I could write about them in the series. I’m in a world of grapevines, good wines, and very near where my niece lives.
In my upcoming Grave City series, I’m in the mindset of a cop, I get to explore the crazy interesting world of Louisiana, and learn the ways of the south. Not New Orleans, but Shreveport and Caddo Parish.
I have an excuse for life long learning…
I’ve had to do some crazy research for my novels. Who Gives a Split let me into the world of very expensive wines. I had no idea people made counterfeit wine, which sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars, until I did my research.
For Grave City, I’m learning about cotton farming, old plantations, tenant houses, and most importantly; police procedurals and hoodoo.
These are things I might think about, but would never had taken the time to learn, except maybe the wine and food stuff. Give me a nice meal and a bottle of wine any day. Ha!
I have complete control…
When you run a restaurant, you have no idea what is going to happen on any given day. It could be great. Or more likely you’re going to have some jerk (I had to delete the work I really wanted to use) complain about the $0.30 it costs to add cheese to a coney dog, like pitch an all out raging fit. Or on the busiest day of the year, three employees decide going to a concert is more important than showing up and being responsible. Yeah, and that’s just the tip of the iceburg. I shouldn’t mention when someone brought their sick kid in to eat, then the kid puked all over the table, bench and floor, and the parent expected me to clean it up.
With my horses, I don’t have that kind of control. I have great horses, who, for the most part, are well behaved, but I’ve been kicked in the ribs, bucked off, knocked over, stepped on, and more. It’s the world of horses. Anything can happen. And in my life, it has.
Relationships. I’m not even going to to there, we all know how it is to have family, kids, spouses.
When I’m in Pear, Salinas, or Grave City writing a murder mystery, I have complete control. Oh, sure, sometimes my characters go off the rails, but they are my characters in my head, and I make the final decision. I decide who lives, who dies, and who is the killer.
Nothing feels better than complete control and when I write, I have complete control. In a crazy world, feeling like I have a little bit of control feels good. In my worlds I have all of the control, and that’s just plain fun.
In a crazy way, writing keeps me sane.
If you write, tell me why, I’d love to know.
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