Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Was Your Writing Career Born From Inspiration or Desperation?

I'm always curious to find out why one chooses to write a book.  It's not exactly something you just wake up and decide to do one day, and those who do probably don't make it very far.  As many of you will attest to, the path to creating a novel isn't a very smooth road to go down.

From the many blogs and author interviews I've read, it seems like people decide to write a novel out of either inspiration or desperation.  For example, someone reads a book and is immediately inspired to give it a try themselves, or maybe they're inspired by a movie or a speech about "following your dreams."  Either way, the determination to write comes from someplace good.

On the other hand, some people start writing out of desperation.  Maybe a loved one passes away, someone gets a divorce or is dealing with depression.  These people start writing out of desperation.  The project becomes a life preserver of sorts; something keeping them afloat.  They're desperate for escapism, to make their life mean something, or just to have something to strive towards.

My first writing project was born from the latter--desperation.  About four years after making the decision to stay home full-time with my children, I found myself going through a (early) mid-life crisis.  This caused a depression that hit me with a vengeance.

My entire life I'd always been the type of person who was always working towards something.  I did the college thing, the career thing, and now I was doing the mom thing.  I found myself wondering, What now?  Is this it for me?  Is this all God had planned out for me--to be someone's wife and mother?  Don't get me wrong, I don't regret my decision to leave my career, and I still believe being there for your children is the greatest thing you can do with your life.  BUT, I wanted more.  I needed more.  I started thinking about what I wanted out of life, and the most important thing I wanted was not to have any regrets.  I decided to do the one thing I had promised myself years ago--write a novel. 

It wasn't easy.  To be honest, it was hell.  I didn't have any confidence (I'm talking zip, zero, zilch).  The only reason I kept on going was because I felt like I didn't have a choice.  It was sink or swim for me, and even though writing it was the hardest thing I'd ever done, it kept me above water.

Little things have happened along the way that lead me to believe I'm right where I belong.  I've never felt more sure about anything in my life, and I honestly believe that the path I'm on is my destiny.  Finally knowing "what I want to be when I grow up" is an awesome feeling.

If you'd like to share, I'd love hear how you came to the decision to write that first book.  Was it inspiration, desperation, or something else?


  1. Great post, Angela! I began writing seriously when I lost my grandfather to cancer. The night he died, I sat down and wrote a poem for him. It touched my cousins and everyone so much that it was read at the eulogy.

    After that, it was like a flood gate opened. I loved words, and I loved being able to touch people with them. I knew then that's what I was meant to do!

    So, much like you, it was desperation which opened the door for me. Since then, inspiration plays a bigger part. :) Thanks so much for sharing your story!

  2. I love your honesty in this post, Angela! For me, it all began with the book Little Women. I was required to read it for a children's literature class I was taking in college, and it was so strange...something just hit me. I'd always tried to sit down and write, but had never been able to and then all of a sudden, I decided, "I'm GOING to do this." A story had been living in my head, and I thought it was the perfect place to start. It's strange to me now that my story was inspired by Little Women, because, uh, my story is NOTHING like LW! But that's how it played out.

    Now, however, I think writing will end up becoming a sort of desperation -- like the kind you mentioned. The older I get, the more I worry I'm destined to be a mom and wife all the rest of my life and nothing else, and that's not what I want at all. I want to be something more, DO something more. Writing, I know, will be my form of escapism in the years to come, and I'm so glad that it will be.

  3. Thanks for sharing, Anita and Ashley.

    @Anita- I used to write poetry too. I've never been big on verbally expressing my emotions, so journaling and writing poems used to be my outlet. BTW, funny coincidence- the first poem I remember writing was after my grandmother died from cancer (I think I was about 13?).

    @Ashley- I find myself being inspired all the time by books (and authors!). I remember reading that Stephenie Meyer wrote Twilight while tending to her three, very young, boys. I thought, "Hell, if she can do it, so can I!" Success stories like that kept me going during those longggg months of writing. And yes, writing is definetly my favorite form of escapism. This is something that's ALL MINE! lol. Something I don't have to share with whiny children ;) hehehe!

  4. Both. I think desperation had me write my first ms. (which although it is my baby is not in anyway ready for the light of day). Inspiration for the others. But I think the main thing that keeps it up for me is addiction. I can't help myself. I can't stop typing or thinking of stories or what I want to write down. It's fun, it's alive and it's one of those rare things that you create on your own but is only really fulfilled when shared with others. That's what makes it so special I think, at least for me, is when someone reads something I write and likes it, when the characters become real ... like the Velveteen Rabbit :)

  5. houseoflaoch- Yes, writing can be VERY addicting. I had to go an entire week without writing a few weeks back (laptop problems) and I just about died!! I jotted notes down in my spiral notebook during that week, but it wasn't the same. If I go more than two days without writing, I start to have withdraw symptoms! lol!

    Thank you for stopping by and for your comment!