"So, what caused you to write a novel?"
I’m sometimes asked “So, what caused you to write a novel?” It’s a good question and I
wish I had an equally good response—but I don’t. For me it has resembled life in that
the decision and the process was messy, taking lots of time to finally resolve to make it
I hear lots of people say things like they just always wanted to write, that it was in their
bones and they couldn’t not write. Again, that wasn’t in my history. In fact, I was sure
that I couldn’t write, that I didn’t have what it took to write anything in a way that others
would desire to read it. Though raised in a wholesome, Christian family environment,
encouragement to excel academically just wasn’t a top concern. I say that with no
sense of malice about it as a fact of life. It’s just what it was. I knew I was valued and
whatever I wanted to choose would likely be okay.
Some authors I’ve read express how they read certain stories or pieces of classical
literature, and they were hooked. Again, that wasn’t my situation. Or that they had a
high school teacher who motivated them in ways that made it impossible for them to do
anything other than to settle on a life of writing. Guess I didn’t get that teacher.
Instead I went merrily on my way through life, tackling each challenge as it came along,
satisfied with doing the best I could with each opportunity presenting itself to me. I was
fully enjoying the variety of things I was doing in life and saw no reason to need to
document any of it. Quite frankly, writing an autobiography felt like arrogance—what
had I done that could possibly be of interest to others? Certainly they wouldn’t want to
read an autobio about me.
And then people started asking me about some of the various things I’ve done in life,
suggesting that indeed, I should write some of it down. Considering that, I thought
perhaps I could write a novel loosely based on the events in my life, that would record
some of my life’s happenings without needing to be totally accurate about how those
things played out. And that was the key for me to get started in writing. I take one or more
elements from my life and build a fictional story line around that happening. Now, that’s
what it took to get me excited about writing. Using something I have experienced as the
nugget to build a story around is motivating! I won’t always reveal the elements that are
part of my history, but know that anything I write will be based to some degree on my
What are your writing experiences like? Share with me about what you write and why.