Why do we write?

Recently fellow WisRWA member Jody Allen shared an article from another RWA Chapter. The post originated on Murderati (an outstanding blog) and was written by Toni McGee Causey. She titled it Comfort Reading (Click here – now!). The article was so moving, I felt compelled to help spread its message. Perhaps you’ve already read it; if so, you’ll know it’s worth reading again.

madeline3 Causey’s post brought to mind my step-mother. She’d always worked hard. While still healthy, she’d never found much time to read for pleasure. Then, on one of my later visits, after she had been diagnosed with cancer and was worn down from chemo, I saw a stack of well-read Regency Romances next to her chair – many by Georgette Heyer and Barbara Cartland. As we talked about her love for the stories, her face softened. “They take me away,” she said. We shared a smile.

As fiction writers, we have many reasons to write. Some of us write for recognition. Some of us write for money (still waiting on that one). Some of us write simply to quell those nagging voices in our heads. But of all our reasons, I believe the best reason we have to write is for others.

Keep writing, my friends!

Defending Marriage

Romance novels are about relationships, about two people overcoming obstacles and working to establish trust. Romance Writers of America (RWA), writes that in a romance lovers “risk and struggle for each other…and are rewarded with emotional justice and unconditional love.” In a romance novel, with its happily-ever-after outlook, the story often ends with a marriage, or at least the promise of one.

sf-july-2008-1202I am a romance writer. I write about romance because I believe in it just as surely I believe in marriage. I believe that life is better because of romance, and it is better because of marriage. Finding one’s soul mate is not an easy task. Pledging lifelong love and commitment to that person is truly wondrous.

Why then are so many supposedly religious folk denying others the joy and permanance that comes from the marriage vow? In the name of their God? What sort of God denies any person’s love for another?

On Tuesday, California passed Proposition 8. In doing so, a small majority enforced their religious beliefs on the rest of the state. I believe it was an act of intolerance, ignorance, and fear. It marked those in the gay and lesbian community as unworthy of marriage.

Not so many years ago, other states banned interracial marriages. Courts bastardized children born of such unions. Parents could be, and were at times, jailed for a simple act of love. Eventually, however, as Civil Rights took root and reason prevailed, courts began to see the light. The laws were declared unjust and people who loved one another – Black, White, or Asian – could legally wed.

However hurtful, I believe this latest assault on the right to marry in California (and other states) is simply one more temporary setback. Like the Civil Rights movement, the marches and protests must, and will, continue until society sees the light. As in a romance novel, there will be a struggle, but there will also be a happily-ever-after for those who love.

Art as Inspiration

Many years ago, when we lived in southern Indiana, I took my sons to a mall art show. As we walked by the displays of oils and watercolors, of pottery and woodcarvings, I happened upon a regional artist whose oil paintings called out and drew me in. We talked for a few minutes then I bought a small painting I found particularly pleasant. She had titled the meticulous oil At Pond’s Edge.

paintings-0042Time passed. The painting came with us to one new home, then another. Always the image of the tranquil pond with its wild grasses, bushes, and butterflies brought comfort. Then, at some point, my writer’s imagination took over. Something happened at that pond, but what? It niggles at my thoughts even now, after all these years. I know there is a story to tell. Someday, it will come to me and I will weave the scene into my book. Maybe not in this work, but surely in my next.

In recent years, I have come to wonder about the artist. I recall that she had many other lovely paintings on display at that long ago mall art show. Her name is Linda Jerina Buis. Is she still painting, still selling her fine work? Or has she gone on to other interests? Internet searches came to naught. Until recently.

Last month I discovered another oil painting by Linda Jerina Buis. It was for sale online. I emailed the friendly lady who had posted the ad. I learned that she had bought Down on the Farm from an estate sale near her home, somewhere outside Kansas City. After several quite interesting emails, we arranged the sale. From a writer’s retreat in Maine, I snail-mailed her a postal money order and she carefully packaged and shipped the painting to me cross county. I opened it with joy.

As I hung my new painting, a sense of wonder came over me. There is a story here too, I thought, in this painting of an old farm and the surrounding countryside. Someday soon, I will write it.