Thursday, February 3, 2011


Things are happening at about three thousand miles an hour these days.

Strange things, like the Snowstorm of the Century Across America, a crazy continuation of weather irregularities that have lambasted the US, and in fact much of the world, this past year. Snow where it doesn't snow, rain when it's supposed to snow, and building collapses from the weight of it all. Earthquakes, floods, extreme temperatures. Cholera, despondency, hunger.

Mubarak, riots, agents of change and agents of harm. Civil unrest, the cry for democracy, bloody participants and journalists alike. Joblessness, hopelessness, desperation leaking from the soul of a country. Full body scans, health care battles, shootings in the parking lot of a grocery store. At some point insanity has become the status quo. I feel like I'm living smack dab in the middle of Billy Joel's song We Didn't Start The Fire.

So I thought about that. There is just one word that encompasses all of this craziness: and that word is change. That trite old addage is still viable: nothing ever stays the same. Evolution, revolution, grow or stagnate, live or die. It happens in nature and it happens in humankind.

We as writers definitely have no lack of subject matter to cull stories from.

To write, is for me, a way to express my creativity and share some humor and make people smile in the face of the often harsh realities of life. But writing is also an escape, not only for the folks who pick our books up, but for me as well. I write to escape, to create an environment I can control, as much as I write to entertain. It goes beyond the "I write because that's what I do," or "I have to put words on the page because I'm strangely compelled to."

I think one reason I write is to try and slow the world down, the world that is whipping by me faster every day. It's my small attempt to make order out of chaos. And when I can make someone laugh, pull a person out of their troubles and make them forget for just a little while, it's all worth it. Worth the sometimes solitary torture of the blank page and characters who refuse to behave.

So. Why, really, do you write? Why do you spend hours, days, months at a time alone, pounding the keyboard? What truly, compels you to share your words, your worlds, your fictional friends? Is it about trying to control inevitable change or more about the freedom to allow change to happen as it needs to? What do you think?



Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Nice point, Jessie. We sort of slow down the world when we write. It's been a crazy last few months, hasn't it?

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

You hit upon something I hadn't thought about before, that maybe I write to slow the world down. I write because I love to do it, but maybe it's also an escape from the tragedies and worries of the world, which, if I thought about them more than I do, would really weigh me down even more. After all, I can control the world in my books. It's also a way to pick an issue or topic and shine a light just on that one thing.

Lois Winston said...

I started writing after a very stressful period in my life when my husband was out of work for a good part of 3 years. I was totally burned out from working 24/7 as the sole provider for our family, trying to keep a roof over our heads, one kid in college and another in private high school. Once life resumed some semblance of normalcy, I finally gave myself permission to collapse and escape. The escape took the form of writing, and I've been writing ever since. I love the comfort of crawling into my cave, shutting out this world, and creating one where I have full control over everyone and everything.

Jessie Chandler said...

Thanks, Elizabeth. I sweated over what to blog about this time, and that's what came out of it. Of course it helps that I'm a CNN junkie.

Sue Ann, I totally know what you mean about dwelling on the tragedies of the can make you crazy. The picking an issue or topic to shine a light on is something I always intend to do when I write, but somehow I manage to often veer off course.

Jessie Chandler said...

Lois, I think that control is something a lot of us wish we had, and can create in our fictional worlds. Congrats on surviving the high school and college years...yikes!!!!

Darrell James said...

Jessie- It's interesting to ponder. I guess I don't feel that I necessarily write to escape, and I don't think I write to give meaning to change... so what's left?

I tend to believe I write just because I love stories and want to be a maker of them. (Now you've got me considering a whole new list of psychoses!)

Back to denial.

Kathleen Ernst said...

Jessie, I definitely started writing in part to escape! I figured out early on that if escaping into a good book was so rewarding, it would be even better to escape into a story of my own. I write now for many reasons, but I do still love to escape into a world of my own making.

Cricket McRae said...

Great post, Jessie. I've been feeling pretty overwhelmed lately and didn't really know why. After reading this I've got a pretty good idea! I'm not a CNN junkie, but between NPR, PBS, and the BBC our house is certainly inundated with news. Bad news, mostly. May I suggest a trip to for a bit of a respite in the form of good news?

And yes, I definitely let out my inner control freak when I write.

G.M. Malliet said...

There is nothing going on in my life or in the world that I don't completely forget about when I'm writing. Have often thought that's why writers write.

G.M. Malliet said...

p.s. And the more the news scares me, the faster I write.

Jessie Chandler said...

Darrell, you're just a pure storyteller :-)
Kathleen, i couldn't agree more!
Cricket, I can't wait check out gimundo! I know i can get too caught up in current events and have to Pull back. There goes that Joel song again!
G.M., I'm still chuckling over your bad news faster writing comment.