Jenna Black's Blog Experiment

Wherein romance author Jenna Black plunges into the terrifying new territory of blogging . . .


Saturday, June 10, 2006

Why Write?

I usually put a post from my blog in my monthly newsletter, but as I'd been slowing down on blog entries lately, this month I put in a plea for blog ideas instead. It seems I find it much easier to figure out what to write about when someone asks questions than when I have to come up with something off the top of my head. I got a few good suggestions, but I'm always open to more. If you have a topic you'd like to see me address, please feel free to drop me an email or add a comment.

One of the questions I received from my newsletter members was about what inspired me to write.

As is probably fairly common among various creative types, I came from a somewhat dysfunctional family. I also had a great deal of trouble relating to kids my own age. Some of that was based on my early childhood, which I spent living in Tahiti. (Another long story, perhaps for another blog entry.) I returned to the states when I was seven, but living so long in such a remote, foreign land made me very much "different" from my classmates. Perhaps in the right school, these differences would have been smoothed over. Or perhaps not. In any case, in the school I went to, even the teachers had some difficulty accepting my cultural differences, though of course after a couple of years of peer pressure, I became fully Americanized once more. I even refused to speak French, which I'd been equally fluent in as English, but which marked me as foreign. But the damage was done.

So, how does an alienated child who has few friends and a dysfunctional family life pass the time? Reading, of course. I've read voraciously for as long as I can remember, and it allowed me to escape from the unpleasant realities of my childhood. It also helped me to relate to other people--even if they happened to be fictional people--by putting me in others' points of view, seeing life through other peoples' eyes.

Eventually, I escaped from the School from Hell and started to lead a more "normal" life. But my love of reading had become an indelible part of me. As I got older and more sophisticated, I tried my hand at creative writing myself, and found I enjoyed it. (Interestingly enough, my first creative writing teacher in high school was named Mr. Shakespeare. I kid you not.)

I wrote off and on for many years, short stories for the most part, but once I was in college I even tackled the enormous task of writing a novel. For a long time, I thought of it as just a hobby as I tried to figure out what I wanted to do when I grew up. As I flitted from idea to idea, from job to job, still not sure of my place in life, it suddenly occurred to me the one constant that had been with me ever since childhood--writing. I'd actually written my first book--illustrated and written in crayon, with a construction paper cover--when I was in fifth grade. It was my autobiography, and covered my years in Tahiti. I still have it somewhere, yellowed and crumbling, and adorable (if I do say so myself).

As you probably know if you've been reading my blog, it took me a long, long time to get from the decision that I wanted to be a writer to the moment when I actually sold a book to a commercial press. But it's all been worth it. Even if my books never become best sellers or have much commercial success, there's still a good chance that they will provide someone somewhere with a few hours of escape from life's more grueling aspects. And they will also provide someone with the chance to walk around in someone else's shoes, to see the world through another's perspective. It's as close as we can come to understanding other people, who will otherwise remain complete enigmas to us no matter how well we know them.

So, when I'm feeling philosophical, and when I feel like psychoanalyzing myself, these are the reasons I come up with for why I write. If I haven't had my caffeine yet, though, I'd probably have a simpler answer: I write because I love it.

Pick whichever answer you like best. I suspect they're both equally valid.


At 10:16 AM, Blogger Sonja said...

Well I'm betting you'll have lots of commercial success. ;-)

I always love to hear the backstory behind writing careers. Makes me hope that someday I'LL be writing on my blog about how MY writing career came to be. Heehee! Thanks for sharing that great story.

At 3:08 AM, Blogger Lady M said...

I think you should write - whenever, and WHATEVER you feel like writing about.

Example: Today you're in the mood to share a story about your childhood that resurfaced today when you were doing something similar.

Yesterday: You were PMSing and the sound of someone breathing was bothering you.

The day before: Hey you just wrote 50 pages and they're good.

The week before: You found a good meme/link/story

The week before that - you decided you want to cook this dinner party - and you'd like suggestions...

And so on...

WHATEVER is YOU - at the moment!

Hugs sweetie - and chat at you later.

Lady M


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