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.
WHY DO WE DO THAT VOODOO WE DO?
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.
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.