Recently I received a phone call from a gentleman with Creative Motion Media. He’d seen something I wrote that was published online on the Arkansas Encyclopedia, and wanted to interview me for a project on Arkansas History. He was interested in our small town and its history of having at one time voted for and acquired a petticoat government.
In Arkansas eighth graders are required to study six weeks of Arkansas History and his project is aimed at teaching this history at a level these students will enjoy, rather than dull facts and dates they’ll never remember. He felt I might have a few of those stories at my fingertips about our petticoat government, since I’d written an entry for the encyclopedia on the mayor and leader of that government, Maud Duncan.
While waiting for him under the big oak tree near the railroad tracks in our small town, I thought about how these instances have come to pass. About how, for the past twenty years, everything I’ve done has brought about something else of interest or excitement or joy. That, to me, is really what it means to be a writer. What happens to us because we write.
In thinking back, I tie each event to the last and the next and wonder what my life would have been like without this obsession I have to write.
Untrained and unschooled in the process, I fell into it because I could do nothing else. I call my need to do so an obsession because there seems no other word that quite fits. Yet I know it was not a demon obsession, but perhaps a walk with the angels, that sent me blindly and with faith into a career for which I had no training.
I recently read somewhere that too many women are writing today, and I felt an urge to shout at that particular author, call her a fool or worse. We don’t write to become her competitors, but rather because we have an overflowing heart and mind filled with words that must come out, words that form something important, something valuable, something that must be read, if only by a few.
At a recent workshop, I gave my students all the good and bad news about writing, and when I finished, one young girl with a terrific talent for writing for children, cried out, “I might as well be at a baseball game.”
Quickly, I spoke, so as not to put out any flickering flames of desire. Don’t give up the urge to write. It’s not what awaits you in the publishing field, but what satisfaction you receive from having put your words on paper, from having read them aloud to your children, for sharing them. We do what we must, and what we must do is share our thoughts. Create. Write.
Recently, Publishers Weekly said, “Three thousand books are published daily in the U.S.” That should encourage all who feel that ultimately they must be published. Many of us are also content to find all kinds of niches where our words can be written down, where other eyes will find them, minds and hearts devour their hidden meanings. Or where we can share our knowledge with the spoken word, as I did with the young man who filmed me for his project. Telling him (and of course the students of Arkansas) my stories enriched my soul. Added another event to the many that have come about . . . because I write.