I blog my thoughts into the blogosphere and hope someone notices.
I review books online whether anyone reads the reviews or not.
I write novels that rank somewhere in the top three million books sold on Amazon.
Sometimes I ask myself why I bother. And then I answer my own question: it’s like breathing. I can’t not write.
I’ve been writing stories on my own time, for my own amusement, ever since I was in elementary school. My first publication, however, was a critique of J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, written for a freshman advanced writers’ class at Marquette University. I suspect it received notice because I found Holden Caulfield tiresome and the entire novel a waste of time, which was the polar opposite of what most young people thought about that book in 1963.
For the next seventeen years, through marriage and motherhood and full-time jobs in hospitals, I didn’t write much, although I thought about it a lot. It wasn’t until my divorce in 1980 that my inner muse stood up and wanted out.
I recently read that it’s not unusual for authors to have a “book of the heart.” It’s a story they need to tell. For some, it may be the only book they ever write. For others, it will always feel like their most important work, even if no one else appreciates it, no agent will accept it, and it never sees the light of publication. They may produce other books that sell more or are written more skillfully, but writing the book of their heart wasn’t a commercial endeavor in the first place, and so it will always hold that special place.
While I can’t really identify any one of my books as the book of my heart, I do see recurring themes in three of them: love, loss, infidelity, and the effects of the Vietnam war on the main characters and their families. These are the three novels I wrote in the 1980s, in ink on the back sides of scrap paper I brought home from work—the three that kept me up, writing late into the night even when I had to be back at work bright and early the next morning. They were stories I needed to tell, experiences I needed to examine, and emotions I needed to get out into the open.
Writing, I have always said, is what keeps me off antidepressants. And, it’s a lot cheaper.