Why Do We Do That Voodoo We Do? by Olive Balla

Please help me welcome Olive Balla, an author with whom I had the pleasure of working with at The Wild Rose Press on a few books, the most recent being her fantastic suspense novel, Jillie.


I tap the screen of my laptop and find a writer’s blog entitled Why Do You Write? Since the process of establishing a “motive” is central to my Suspense/Mystery genre, this gives me pause. I chew on the question, a frown creasing my forehead.

Other authors seem to have no problem defining their motivation, so why can’t I? It’s not a trick question – it’s something I should probably know.

Did my inability to name a consistent tune to which my Writer Spirit dances signify a lack of imagination? Was it a death knell to my aspirations to write something worth a few hours of someone’s life?

One blogger claims his raison d’etre is a drive for pure creative expression. His stories offer the perfect venue for building other worlds peopled with folk of his conjuring.

Yup, I say to myself, that’s a cool reason to write. Maybe I just feel the need to do me some creating.

Another writer vows she has no choice but to obey a powerful Inner Command to write. I consider the implied nobility of that statement. Maybe that’s why I write. I DO sometimes feel compelled. No, really.

What might happen to a writer who ignores such a command; would she expire? Would she explode into unfulfilled bits of gelatinous non-writer? I sigh.

With a grateful heart, I find one blogger who admits to purely mercenary motives. Time to get new carpet for the living room? No problem, just whip out a blockbuster. If only.

As a retiree living on a clenched-butt fixed income, that thought sets off a responsive gong. Perhaps paving a pathway to a gratifying payday is my true motivation after all.

Yet another blogger says his writings are borne of angst. His words, a therapeutic outlet, offer catharsis to his existential pain.

Then there is the writer who believes he has important information for the world, words of wisdom, answers to the mysteries of the human condition. And there are indeed those writers whose words change the course of history.

But alas, pleased to un-dangle participles and duct-tape split infinitives, I don’t have anything of such magnitude to say. One writer’s nuggets of gold are another’s horse puckie.

Then my hard-nosed Internal Editor sends up snarky questions on the quality of my own writing. Was my plot tight enough? Did my dialogue sing? Should I have included at least one scene of graphic sex? Or horror of horrors, did my characters behave uncharacteristically?

Perhaps I write to justify my mother’s never-flagging faith in my abilities, while jabbing a finger in my dad’s eye for suggesting I get a real job.

By the time the self-doubt and reflection are said and done, I arrive at a near-epiphany: Sometimes I write for all the above reasons but sometimes I write for none of them.

Mostly I write because I want to. If someone escapes a less-than-perfect reality for a nano-second by reading something I’ve written – that’s just plain cool.

My Internal Writer sighs. The tightness in my neck relaxes, and I bang out another scene.


Eleven-year-old Jillie Ross escapes the vicious relatives threatening to flush away her beloved sister’s ashes if she doesn’t lead them to her dead father’s rumored treasure.
Determined to find her sibling’s ashes and honor them along with their parents’ remains, the feisty orphan must endure harsh weather, escape a stalker, and hide from the police. But how long can she survive when at least one family member wants her dead?

Jillie dropped the metal lid as if it were red hot..Her stomach heaved, and something sour shot up her throat. She pounded against the locked, unyielding door until the muscles in her arms cramped.  She  fell to her knees and clawed at the floor, ignoring the pain radiating up her arms from torn fingernails...   

The sound of approaching footsteps made the tiny hairs on the back of her neck move. She snatched up the broken shovel handle and stood behind the door. With her legs slightly bent, she gripped the pole with both hands as if it were a sword, aimed its broken, pointed end at the door and waited.  

A retired educator, Olive Balla began writing in her sixties. Her first mystery/suspense novel, An Arm And A Leg, was published just after her sixty-fifth birthday, and her second, Jillie, was recently published. Ms. Balla is a mother of three, grandmother to eleven, and great grandmother of seven. When she isn’t writing, she can be found making sawdust in her wood shop near Albuquerque New Mexico.


Filed under Author Blog Post

16 responses to “Why Do We Do That Voodoo We Do? by Olive Balla

  1. I always answer the question of why I write this way: because it’s fun! Often it isn’t, of course, but when the story is clear in my mind and the words are flowing, it’s the best experience ever. Best of luck with the book!


  2. karenhulenebartell

    Sounds like an intriguing read! Best of luck with it!


  3. Trying to find a character’s motivation can be work! While I love to plot, digging down into a character takes time, but I’m always rewarded with gold if I stay with it long enough. Wishing you much success with your writing!


  4. Kara O'Neal

    Writing is fun for me. It’s a release actually. It helps me forget the stress of my day. That’s probably weird but for some reason, writing lets out the tension. I enjoyed your excerpt!


  5. pamelasthibodeaux

    hmmm…a question I ask myself regularly especially when sales are non-existent, time is fleeting and keeping or catching up takes hours LOL! but the bottom line is that I love writing. Period.

    Great post.
    Good luck and God’s blessings


  6. I write because I can’t not write. But then, I’ve been a writer all my life for business and industry. People think it’s easy. Nah, it’s a tough job if you want to do it right. Great post.


  7. winonabennettcross

    Absolutely great interview. I love the sense of humor, the post actually made me laugh while I was drinking my first cup of coffee.
    I think the author tapped into my multitude of insecurities about my own writing.
    Now, I’m off to Amazon to find Jillie.


  8. Diane Burton

    Writing is fun for me . . . until it’s not. lol Enjoyed the interview.


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