I’ve been writing since someone handed me a crayon. My first fully illustrated story was about a mermaid who wanted to have a baby. Her mother said, “You can’t make a baby by yourself, dear.” She replied, “Oh yes I can!” and immediately became pregnant and gave birth to a little mermaid. Ironically, as I grew up, I told everyone I was never going to have children. I was going to be a writer and give birth to books instead. It’s a drive I was born with and remain possessed by even though it’s usually meant living on the financial edge.
I write to learn. The act of writing awakens and engages a part of my brain that is normally dormant. I’m smarter, wiser, deeper and more eloquent when I’m writing than when I’m merely talking or thinking. I’m fascinated by the way metaphors and similes reveal the connection between my subjective emotions and external reality, between my inner life and the sensual world. When I’m truly inspired—when I’m in “the zone” all writers I’ve spoken to are familiar with to different degrees—my sense of controlling the flow of words transforms into a sensation akin to discovering something which is already there, I’m simply working to unearth it, like a miner deep in the cavern of my brain wresting gems of beauty and meaning from their subconscious hiding places. Mysteriously enough, I feel educated by my own work. Really good writing, whether it be mine or someone else’s (no honest writer is modest) deepens my innate faith in life’s transcendent nature. Even the most painful experiences abound with wonder when I write about them.
When I was researching my novel about Hatshepsut, the female pharaoh, I had no idea how to begin writing the story of her life; how to piece together all the available evidence to date and fill in the many blanks. Then I sat down at my desk and the mysterious chemical alchemy that takes place in my brain whenever I make the conscious decision to begin writing transformed my laptop screen into a portal through which I dove into a world that immediately began coming alive beneath my fingertips. The pace was sluggish at first—I had to make an effort to row myself into ancient Egypt with all the facts at my disposal—then distinctly (joyfully!) I felt myself reach that indescribable “current” which propelled me onward with scarcely any effort. Its been called inspiration but I think of it as a relationship between objective reality and my inner being that makes them seem inseparable, as I believe they truly are.
I write like I bleed. When feelings cut me deeply the life-filled cells of words flow out of me. Books written by other writers have always helped sustain my heart and soul like paranormal transfusions. Give blood, save lives. Write superbly, ignite souls.
I write to expand the literal borders of my life by unearthing the profound dimensions concealed in my day-to-day experiences.
I write to relish the excitement of the unknown—a blank screen’s seemingly infinite possibilities. The lives and fates of my characters rest entirely in my hands and yet I lose myself in them and am surprised, constantly enthralled, by where they lead me, as though my imagination is a fourth dimension where they actually live. I write to defy time and space and to claim the power my conscious spirit possesses over them. As Hatshepsut would have said, I write to “emulate divine creativity.”
When I was a teenager I was struck by how Anais Nin replied when someone asked her why she wrote. “I write to breathe,” she told the reporter. Writing is indeed how my soul breathes while exhaling hope and wonder, love and desire, every feeling that defines me as a human being. Sentences and the words composing them are like branches and leaves growing out of my heart. Selfishly, I offer the emotional oxygen of my unique being to others and—as trees feed off our every breath—the pleasure they take in my work fulfills me like nothing else, inspiring me to continue growing as a person and a writer.
Truth is the Soul of the Sun
All My Books