Why Do I Write?

by Jenn (eating bender) on April 1, 2012

April Fools!

I tried my best to think of a good joke today, but my mind kept returning to Krennducki 2011 and the aftermath. Nothing could really top it this year without seeming a little obvious or just plain crazy. We’ll have to see what 2013 brings. :) Any fun April Fools stories to share?

This morning, two wonderful things happened that inspired me to write a post on why I write. There are a lot of answers to this question, but rather than tell you, I figured I should follow the advice of many authors and show you, instead.

It started when I finished re-reading the third book in a very popular series. Any of you who have read my posts this week can likely guess which book that is, but it was my reaction to the ending that truly caught me off guard: I sobbed.

Not your average cry-at-sad-or-happy-endings sob. This was a can’t catch my breath, I-need-a-tissue-and-I-need-it-now kind of sob. And it lasted a good five minutes.

Bobby, who is probably used to these types of reactions from me by now, immediately asked what was wrong. The funny thing is, I wasn’t crying because I was happy or because I was sad. I wasn’t even crying about the plot of the book, really, although the fact that it is one of my favorite book series certainly moved me in a more emotional way than would a book I didn’t care as much about.

After I calmed myself down enough to think clearly, I tried my best to explain what was at the heart of my hysteria. Maybe I’m a rare breed or just an oddball, but what I came up with was that it was more about the way the book (the series) grabbed me from page one. I never wanted it to let go. I didn’t want the books to be over even though I ate the pages up like candy and stayed up many late nights this week, unable to tear myself away.

When the book ended, I felt fulfilled…but empty. Empty because of the simple fact that it was over.

By this time, Bobby must have thought I was insane, but he comforted me like he always does and suggested I clear my head. So I laced up my tennis shoes and headed out for my 9-mile training run, hoping the fresh air would help me sort out what I was trying to say. Like many writers, I’m not half as good at expressing myself out loud as I am on paper.

So I went out on my run. It was MISERABLE.

It started out fine. A little cooler than when I normally run outside (I tend to head for the treadmill if it dips below 50), but manageable. It wasn’t until I started around the bend of my first “loop” that I realized the reason it was easy was because I was running with an extremely powerful wind. As soon as I turned that corner, I was being blasted backward by a 20-30 mph lake force gale.

Then the side aches came. I eventually had to alternate walking and running for about a mile until they went away. I was pretty much ready to give up at this point and head back to our apartment gym, but I also had a funny feeling that if I made it back there after completing only four miles, I would lose the momentum and never be able to complete five more miles on a treadmill.

So I kept going. And I’m not going to lie, it was awful. One of the worst runs I’ve ever been on. But when I completed my fourth loop and could finally make the turn to head home, I was feeling proud of myself for sticking with it. My arms and legs were red and chapped – not sure what possessed me to stick to shorts and a t-shirt on this blustery day – but I was still keeping pace. I had just gotten back on the lakefront trail when something caught my eye and brought me to a halt.

Some of you may not know the significance of this image, but it’s peppered throughout that very same book series I finished this morning in a beautiful and touching way, including one of the last lines of the book. (I won’t quote it but if you have read the series, it’s the sixth one down here.)

Maybe it was because the ending was so fresh in my mind, but I felt the tears coming again. I know. You might be are thinking I have some pretty crazy hormones. But these were happy tears. I realized what it was that had me sobbing after I finished the books (again).

It was a beautifully written ending, yes, but more than that, it was the realization that Suzanne Collins was somehow able to reach inside my mind and impact me so deeply that her words are still ringing in my head. The themes, the imagery, the symbolism, the big picture points she made with her plot…all while still telling a compelling story. These are the things that make me fall in love with books, with certain writers and with the idea of writing.

So why do I write?

I write for myself. It’s an expression of who I am, even when the story is not about me at all.

But I also write for others, with the hope that my words will resonate with them. Let them know they are not alone. Give them a story, a time, a character, a place, a dream they can relate to. And, if I’m lucky, challenge their own imagination.

I’ve been told that I can write, and write well. This still remains to be seen, in my opinion. My manuscript isn’t finished, and there are many manuscripts that I hope will come after this one that have yet to prove themselves.

But armed with this knowledge of what writing can do, the way it impacts me – makes me an overjoyed, sobbing mess – and the way I hope to someday be able to do that for others (red-rimmed eyes and nose blowing optional), I think the real question is:

How could I not?

Have you ever had a book, a movie, a piece of art, etc. move you in such a way? Not to tears necessarily (perhaps those are just reserved for me), but in a way that stuck with you long after you’d read or seen it?

I have a feeling I’m not alone.

I love that feeling.


P.S. #MarchPhotoADay recap tomorrow. Inspiration struck today. :)

1 Carrie April 1, 2012 at 8:39 pm

I started reading Harlan Coben years ago and couldn’t put his stuff down. I read one and then went to B&N and bought everything that guy wrote. I was reading his series so much and so often that I began to dream about the characters! I love his stuff and can read it over and over and never get bored. I always wait with excitement for his next book, which I read within 2 days most! Total Coben addict :)

2 Jenn (eating bender) April 1, 2012 at 9:12 pm

This is so awesome, Carrie. I have never read Harlan Coben but you can bet I’ll be looking him up tonight. I love when I find an author I’m so passionate about that I want them to write faster. :)

3 Kristie April 1, 2012 at 8:54 pm

Love the way you storied your run :). Whenever I read or watch something that really strikes a cord with me (and yes, it often involves crying), I find it’s because it really touches on something about human condition. It can involve feelings of hope or hopelessness, love, goodness in people or even the horrible things that people can do, but when it is presented in genuine ways it hits me hard. Most recently, it happened to me while watching Gilmore Girls. Sounds silly, but it’s true! Anyway, I’m going to start reading the Hunger Games series soon and can’t wait because I’m pretty sure it will happen to me at least a few times :).

PS – I like to think that having a bad run means I’m getting it out of the way so it doesn’t happen during a race. It’s a good thought at least!

4 Jenn (eating bender) April 1, 2012 at 9:14 pm

You are so spot on. It really is about the human condition and you know what? The same exact thing happened to me with Gilmore Girls. I’ve got the pictures on Facebook to prove it when the finale aired. :) As you said, it’s about those feelings, whatever they are, and watching people embrace them knowing they’ve “been there, too.” Even if they are fictional, the ability to relate on some level (and thereby relate to the author who created the characters), is really amazing.

Can’t wait for you to read The Hunger Games! And thanks for the run pep talk. :)

5 Cara (Twinthusiast) April 1, 2012 at 10:27 pm

Ah my dear, this post resonates with me so much. Finding a book that makes you feel this way is a treasure, and the great ones are hard to let go! I’m repeating myself, but this is how I just felt finishing Gone with the Wind. I’ve had a real streak of books like this this year — Sarah’s Key, the HG series…and hope to find some more literary loves soon (NOT the Marriage Plot!) 😉
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6 Jenn (eating bender) April 2, 2012 at 10:52 am

So true. I cracked open Gone with the Wind last night and am so excited! Hopefully we can find more literary loves to come this year. :) If you’re still in the “dystopian” mindset I think you should read Divergent by Veronica Roth. I can tell you more about it on Thursday but it’s very “HG” while also being original, and is the first in a future series of three!

7 Wendi April 1, 2012 at 11:00 pm

You are a writer, my friend. A beautiful and talented writer. I absolutely can relate to what and how you are feeling. To get enraptured in a book, to feel such a connection with a time and place and characters…that is why I am so very passionate about reading, about writing. To me, it is a love that is never-ending. There are many reasons why people decide to write, to devote their careers, their lives even to the written word, but I believe it is what spurs your passion, your reason, the driving force behind your words, that makes you such a great writer. I know, without a doubt, that you will one day be following the likes of Suzanne Collins, inspiring and delving into the hearts of readers everywhere!
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8 Jenn (eating bender) April 2, 2012 at 7:05 pm

You are so wonderful, Wendi! Thank you for the huge confidence boost and reassurance. I loved your words about writing, as well – beautifully put! It truly is a connection like no other when you find the books that just “get you.” :)

9 Jessica S April 2, 2012 at 12:00 am

I love this post and can relate to the feeling of being so moved by a book. One that sticks out in my mind is The Lovely Bones by Alice Seabold. That book hit me hard. I’ve always had the belief that when people die they go to a better place and never feel sadness, pain, loneliness again. This book shattered that idea for me. Sounds kind of silly when I write it out but it was intense. Anyway, great post!

10 Jenn (eating bender) April 2, 2012 at 7:06 pm

I don’t think it sounds “silly” at all! That’s how I felt when I was writing this post – will people think I’m crazy for sobbing over The Hunger Games? At the end of the day, we can’t help how these books move us and it’s a wonderful thing that they do. I loved your story about The Lovely Bones. It’s one book that I still need to read, and can’t believe I haven’t. Thanks so much, Jessica!

11 Chelsea April 2, 2012 at 12:29 am

The older I get, the more attached I become to well-written fictional characters. I can’t tell you how many characters’ deaths and heartaches I have felt as my own before. I’ve already teared up during The Hunger Games series, which is no mean feat. Writers and readers are sensitive, and it is this sensitivity that helps us reach out to others through our words.
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12 Jenn (eating bender) April 2, 2012 at 7:42 pm

Beautifully put, Chelsea! I couldn’t agree with you more, especially about this sensitivity increasing with age. Likely because as we get older, we have more of the “tough” experiences of adulthood that makes a character’s hardships that much more real and vivid in our imaginations. Thanks for sharing!

13 Joy April 2, 2012 at 2:03 am

I am a person who lives IN the book she’s reading. So many books touch me. 2 that I can remember is marley and me (which made me sob so hard my husband thought someone we knew had died. And THE book I recommend to the world is “forgotten: seventeen and homeless” go! Read it! Now :-)

14 Jenn (eating bender) April 2, 2012 at 7:44 pm

I definitely live in the books I’m reading! I sobbed during Marley & Me, too. I haven’t read Forgotten but with a recommendation like that am planning to check it out immediately! Thanks, Joy. :)

15 Jean | Delightful Repast April 2, 2012 at 8:42 am

Loved this post! I know what you mean. I write nonfiction (magazine and web articles and my food blog) but one day hope to pull out the magic for a novel. *You* will definitely write a novel! Like Joy, the commenter above, I live *in* the book I am reading. Read Jane Eyre aloud to my mother when I was seven. (For some reason, l have always read English literature in an English accent!)

16 Jenn (eating bender) April 2, 2012 at 7:52 pm

Haha! I had to laugh at your English accent comment because I do the exact same thing. :) Thank you for this comment, Jean. Your faith in me means so much, and I definitely agree with both you and Joy – living *in* the book is what makes reading so amazing! I have no doubt that you have the magic for a novel. I love chatting about this topic so if you’d ever like to bounce around ideas or just talk writing, feel free to email me!

17 Melissa @TryingtoHeal April 2, 2012 at 9:20 am

This has definitely happened to me, while I was reading My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult. It was an amazing book yes, but something about it brought me to the craziest tears I’ve ever had!

And I’m sorry the run didn’t go well but you finished!! Great job Jenn!
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18 Jenn (eating bender) April 2, 2012 at 7:53 pm

That book gave me the chills! Such a good example of that “feeling.” I’m sorry we missed each other yesterday and still want to catch up with you! When are you free this week? Miss you, lady!

19 brandi April 6, 2012 at 8:19 am

and this is why I love our conversations and your blog. it’s nice to know there are other people that feel the same way.

and ps: HIMYM is great! so glad you’re getting Bobby watching, too :)

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