Friday, March 18, 2011

What Inspires You to Write?

When someone asked me that the other day, my answer was vague but spontaneous, "Because that's who I am." In truth, if I knew why, I'd bottle it up and force-feed myself during those bleak times.

Another writer might say it was the sun, or the stars, or the satisfaction of seeing their words in print, or maybe the knowledge that one sentence might immortalize them. Me? I'm not sure.

I received my first diary when I was eight. It had one page per day, and a little lock kept it safe from prying eyes. And if I remember correcting, it was blue. Or maybe red?

I wrote in it everyday. Nothing mind-boggling, or inspiring, just my thoughts for the day. What I did or wanted to do. Stuff about as interesting as any eight year old could come up with.

I wrote in my diary right up until I was in my teens. Soon the diary became a journal, and I continue entering my thoughts well into my twenties. I kept writing because it felt right. Today I still write in my journal, but mostly I write fiction. I wrote my first short story in 1973.

Robin, Dad & Joylene

In 1983 my father passed away; he was fifty-six. To survive the grief I decided I'd immortalize (there's that word again) him through words. I'd write a novel about him, me, and our relationship. Seven years later, I finished. It was terrible! But, man, was I hooked on the process.

I'm not a deep thinker, but even I realized quickly that writing fills a void. Never am I more alive, more tuned to nature, or my own psyche than when I'm writing. A whole world opens up and swallows me. My senses heighten, my vision clears, and everything around me disappears.

Writing is who I am. Take writing away and I feel half-alive. Half-whole. I need to create on paper. It's no longer a choice. My ego, whether it be fragile or rock solid must be heard. Dreams come true on paper. Fears are dealt with. No obstacle is too big that I can't forever forge a more embraceable ending.

What inspires me to write? I guess living does. Breathing.

How about you?


  1. Hmmm, for me that's not a question with a spontaneous answer. I had one of those lock-and-key diaries, too, and I filled it with inconsequential things, mostly born of teenage angst. As an adult I continued to journal when I needed a private outlet for words. My private writing morphed into devotionals and book reviews which were the origin of my publication in non-fiction. It was a writing friend who challenged me to expand beyond a family memoir into fiction.

    But what inspires me to write now? Almost everything I look at. I see the way the trees move in the wind this morning and want to find words to describe it... to capture it so I'll remember exactly how they danced and bowed and swept the air like Victorian ladies whirling in evergreen gowns. The vignette goes into my diary so I won't forget it... it may appear in a novel one day; who knows? Novels start out with a visual image that I can't resist exploring -- who is it, what are they doing, and why?

    It's hard to know where inspiration comes into it. But it's a good question that's taking me too much space to answer here. I'll have to think on it some more. Maybe the answer will end up in my journal. ;)

  2. Always knew you were a natural writer, Joylene. It shows.

    I write so I can hang out with fine folks like you!

  3. You nailed it, Carol. It was your blog about your love for journals that ignited the subject for this post. Remember that excitement when your little one had just learned something very very wonderful was about to happen? And they were so excited they couldn't contain themselves. I was that kid when it came to writing. My mother must have witnessed it. She bought me many diaries and journals over the years.

    Oh my, your descriptions are breathtaking. I want to hear more, Carol. Yes, please do write a story around those trees and the wind!

  4. LOL, Keith. What a trickster you are. You can't fool me, my friend. I've seen too much of your creativity to fall for that. You are a storyteller of the highest quality. Thank you for so many hours of enjoyment reading your work.

  5. It's good to learn more about you! Glad you shared.

    I write b/c I feel it's what I'm supposed to do. And I love it. :)

  6. I loved this post, Joylene!

    What inspires me to write? I think, for me, it's a strong need to express what I'm feeling since I find it more difficult to do verbally. My inspiration sometimes from what I am feeling emotionally about a certain subject, things that might make me happy or angry or sad. I am often inspired by human nature and the way we behave under certain circumstances.

  7. @Karen, you're right. Writing is a gift that you have to use. You're doing a wonderful job. Reading your blog is a joy.

    @Laura, I feel the same way. I remember a professor at the university who said it was a good thing I didn't write like I spoke. LOL. Yes, she was teasing, but she was also right. I'm no toastmaster.

  8. My childhood diary consisted mainly of entries such as "today is a sunny day", or "cloudy day", or "windy day"...

    Whatever inspired you to write Joylene, one thing we all know is that you can tell a story very well - "Dead Witness" can testify to this!

    I'm inspired by the need to share whatever I observe or experience with others. I like to look deeply into and create a story from the most mundane of things!

  9. Hi Joylene .. never wrote a diary or a journal, useless at English and History .. I guess this is my Renaissance period!

    It was friends' and families' comments about my letters out re my mother's strokes 4 years ago now .. that they were so interesting and informative ..that started the blog & then realisation that I could write.

    Probably more importantly that the creative mind was bursting with writing ideas to get out .. especially if people were interested! Friends and family still appreciate the real letters .. while my mother commented she didn't realise I had this creative spirit!

    Live on writing .. I love it - happy days by your lake .. lovely sunny day here .. Hilary

  10. @Grandpa, thanks for sharing that. I know through your blog your farm has come alive for me. Have a wonderful weekend.

    @Hilary, thank you so much. Your good wishes are a blessing. It was a long drawn out winter. We're finally seeing tiny signs of spring. Heard a Loon yesterday! Yay. Pretty soon the robins will be back. Have a lovely weekend.

  11. Hi Joylene .. me knows what a Loon is - a duck .. oh I'm so clever - comes of reading so many blogs .. see a word and look it up .. better check it's right though .. yep!!

    How lovely the lake has thawed is thawing and you'll have your bird song back .. isn't Spring just wonderful .. enjoy the time - Hilary

  12. LOL. Got another one for you, Hilary. Balaclava. I don't have to wear a balaclava when I go outside!

  13. Hi Joylene .. that one's Russian or English via the Crimean war - sorry - knew that one .. different spelling .. k or c ...

    But I love Baklava ... cheers Hilary

  14. In Canada, I've only ever seen it spelled with a C. The common knitted toque. My husband must have a dozen.

  15. Apparently not much inspires me since I haven't written for a very long time. I guess it makes sense. When I received one of those locked diaries, it stayed locked, though I had visions of filling it with wise and witty entries. Nope, not a one. (Well, maybe one entry the day I received it._

    A long time ago I used to write chatty letters to friends, telling them all about me and my feelings, my life and my dreams, but then several years later someone read one of those old letters back to me, and they laughed. For me, it was still painful. Needless to say, I never did anything like that again until I started doing my grief articles. I still am a bit hesitant about having posted them, but they served their purpose.

    So what inspires me? Something, I hope. And soon.

  16. At this very moment, I'm wishing you peace, inspiration, and contentment. I think anything is possible, Pat. I think one day I'll read your post and see that you are inspired. Probably by something simple, like a smile, or a dew drop on a petal. When grief overwhelms me, I remember that death is the one constant thing that we all share. Then I look around at all the people who carry on, bravely and with deep compassion, people like yourself. Being with others who love life is one of God's greatest gifts.

  17. I write because I can't not. I love stories and I love words, though I still have not mastered them. :)

    What a wonderful post. :)

  18. Thanks, Amanda. Music to my ears. And writing because you cannot not -- I understand completely. That's why I always feel sorry when I hear a hockey player has to retire, or a baseball great put in the glove. Or however it's said. Imagine being told that you're too old to write!

  19. Oh, for sure. One of my nieces who plays soccer (I mean, this kid is way into it) was badly hurt and has to have surgery and can't play for at least a year. She's soooo down.

  20. Hi Joylene,
    What an interesting and insightful posting. Fascinating to read what triggered, what inspired your passion, your love for the magic that is the written word.
    Obviously, your diary was a catalyst that created a journal, that created a book. I understand, in my own way, what you mean in regards that, "writing fills a void." I so relate to how the writing transports one to a state of heightened awareness and concentration of what one is writing. This is indeed a wonderful way in which you have so clearly described your writing experience.
    So, do you really want to know what inspires me, shy and humble me, to write? Well, besides you being my inspiration, I'm inspired to write as a therapeutic positive distraction in my ongoing challenge to try and make some sense of my mental illness. I find writing a most cleansing experience and that's got to be a good thing.
    Thanks for this terrific posting, Joylene.
    Kind wishes and a hopeful glimpse of the 'supermoon', your way, Gary

  21. Thanks so much for sharing, Gary. I still find it amazing how blogging has brought you and so many good friends into my life. My dad would have got a kick out of that. He was a kewl guy. A truck driver who always took time out during his stops to chat for a moment. When I went with him once, at every stop people would smile and laugh and kibitz as if they'd been friends forever. Kind of like blogging.

    OOH! A flock of geese just flew by. That means spring! Yay!!!

    See, you're good luck too!

  22. Yay eh, some geese flew by. You is like real kewl, just like your dad was :)
    I'm blessed to know all these really nifty neato folks in our great blogging community. And Joylene you are well like nifty neato eh! :)
    Hope, along with those geese, you get to see the wonder of the supermoon as we now enter the rebirth of nature that is spring....Yes, I know, go to bed Gary and why are you up so late, young man! LOL

  23. I can't see the moon yet. It's up there somewhere. Maybe once it gets dark he'll show up better. Yes, LOL, go to bed, young man!

  24. Like you, life inspires me to write.

    Thanks so much for stopping by my blog!

  25. Lauren, what a kind thing to say. Stopping by your blog is one of those kind things I do for myself. Thanks, Lauren.


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