Tuesday, June 10, 2014

June Theme: You Know You’re a Writer When…
By Marcia Thornton Jones

I don’t remember when I first decided I wanted to be a writer.

I do know that, as a little kid, whenever my mom treated me to a ‘dime store’ toy I always picked out pads of paper and pencils. I’d fill the pages with scribbles…never drawings. One day I discovered the thrill of connecting big and little loops. My older sister Barbara glanced at my page and told me I was writing cursive l’s and e’s. From that moment on, I was hooked. My mark-making actually MEANT something? They could COMMUNICATE?

So could that be when I first decided I wanted to be a writer?

My first rejection letter came when I was in fifth grade. I wrote a poem that so impressed my mother that she sent it to a magazine. I don’t remember the sting of the rejection at all. I do remember my mother’s excitement when she read my poem--and the realization that she thought it worthy enough to share with the world.

Maybe that’s when I decided to be a writer.

There was only one teacher who provided classroom opportunity for creative writing—up until then ‘writing’ meant handwriting, spelling, English sentences, or reports. In seventh grade our teacher assigned a short story. Mine started out innocently enough…but then it led to, a-hem, a kissing scene. The night before it was due I decided I couldn’t possibly give this to my teacher (please note I went to a Catholic school). So I quickly wrote another story that included talking animals. I don’t remember the talking animal story…but I do remember a bunch of kids clustering around me on the playground to listen as I read the original story (oh, let’s be honest, they were just listening for the ‘sex’ part).

So maybe THAT’s the moment I decided I wanted to write.

Or maybe it was when I worked in a book store and caught myself wondering about all the people whose names were on the covers of those books I shelved. When that same curiosity compelled me to buy Gabrielle Lusser Rico’s book, WRITING THE NATURAL WAY.

Then again, it could’ve been when I realized my favorite part of being a teacher was sharing fun books with my students—and I started daydreaming about having my name on the cover a book.

Maybe then?

Really though, I haven’t a clue when I first realized I wanted to be a writer. In fact, it wasn’t until long after I’d published a best-selling series that I was brave enough to say the word ‘writer’ out loud. Even now, I say it with a little tinge of embarrassment because, quite honestly, I’m not sure if I’m a real writer or if I’m just sort of faking it.

I guess for me the question is, why am I writer today? What about the plot, story, and character makes me sit down at my desk and work my way through struggles of self-doubt and fear? What makes me carry my journal from room to room? To fill it with notes and doodles and ideas? What feeds my writing passion today?

Is it the love of story? Is it a desire to make sense of the world? Is it an urge to share discoveries and insights? Is it the belief that my words might help others help themselves by making sense of things through story-telling?

How about the rest of you? What makes you a writer…today?

10 comments:

  1. Love this, Marcia. Exactly what I needed to read TODAY.

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  2. Great! So I take it you need a reminder about why you bother with this writing thing? Where the passion comes from? So...why?

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  5. Loved hearing about your writing origins, Marcia. I write because it's fun to take stories in my head and write them down then develop them into something with characters and a plot. It's very rewarding when it all comes together.

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  6. I write NOW because all the stories in my head beg for release. There is something satisfying about putting letters onto paper and making words and creating ideas with the potential to change something...be it a thought, belief, or the world. Writing is very powerful stuff.

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  7. That's a REALLY good question. Hmm mm... I think I write because I feel the need to... which, really isn't a very good reason to. If I were to say that I about killing people, for example, that really wouldn't fly.
    I think... I think... what it all really comes down to is communication and understanding. I've ALWAYS wanted to communicate. I learned to talk early, learned to read and write early. I wanted in on this word action! Once puberty hit, it went WAY past communicating and hit deep understanding. That's what I wanted - I wanted to be understood AND to understand DEEPLY.
    ...
    I had a really hard time of that, but that's puberty! So now part of the reason for writing - or at least for the current work-in-progress - is to reach out from where I am now to those where I had been to let them know that they are understood. That's actually one of the main points of the current work.
    Also, I think of the feeling I get of putting something out there... and it's the same feeling I get when I see something that makes me gasp, or feel inspired, or makes me happy... or all three! I want to pass on that feeling, and I want to make something... and I want someone else to make something to pass on that feeling, too. It's inspiring and connecting... and bringing beauty and understanding. Perhaps that's my way of contributing anything to this world.

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  8. I had the opportunity to hear Richard Peck speak last night, and he said our stories are "survival manuals masquerading as entertainment." I think books were that for me as a kid, and I'd like mine to fill that role for kids today.

    That I have characters knocking around in my head, and if I don't get them down on paper, I'm not sure WHAT will become of me…;-)

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  9. I wish I could have been in that group of girls on the playground hearing you read aloud the kissing scenes!

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  10. My problem is - I haven't been writing! I miss our writing meetings and all of the inspiration you've always provided me!! You're a fantastic writer and a great friend! Love you!! Becky

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