Monday, August 2, 2010

Not 'til Death Will I Part

Do you know how many authors died before they became famous?

I don’t either, but there are probably more than I can count. (We won’t talk about how many committed suicide.)

Jane Austen’s work brought her little personal fame and few positive reviews while she was living. John Kennedy Toole, died at age 31 and was posthumously awarded the Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Very few of Emily Dickinson’s poems were published while she was alive. And wouldn’t Anne Frank be astounded by how the world has changed because of her work?

Here’s a current example: Stieg Larsson. Who’s he? He’s a Swedish author whose murder-mystery triplets —The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest— hold three of the top four spots on USA TODAY's Best-Selling Books list.

According to USA TODAY, Mr. Larsson, “a chain-smoking investigative journalist, dropped dead of a heart attack at age 50 after climbing seven stories to his magazine's Stockholm office because the elevator was out of order. Larsson sold the first three novels of a proposed 10-book series. But he died before the first one ever saw print.”

How tragic.

I believe I have something in common with these writers—a passion to write. It’s the way I communicate, express myself. I write because I can, and when I do I lose all track of time and sometimes reality, but I love that. I love when I can take myself into the minds of my characters and see, feel, hear and taste far-away places from their point of view without leaving my home. If I didn’t love what I do, I wouldn’t be spending my time and money on my journey to master this craft.

It’s not about the fame. (Well, okay, I’d love to see one of my novels on the screen. I admit it.) But more importantly it’s because I really, really enjoy it.

Are there days when I ask myself why? Why am I doing this? Yes. Some days the doubt tugs at me, but when I stop and think of the alternatives, of sitting in Corporate America tied to a schedule that allows for no creativity, I cringe. Writing is what I do and if it takes me until I die to get published, so be it. But in the meantime, I’m going to have fun writing my stories.

Why do you write?


  1. Why do I write? There's a tsunami inside me that rises up and crushes me if I don't--and I hate to get my toes wet.

  2. I write because my mom told me stories and I felt I had to write them down. Then, it was because she read.

    This is such a good post because I was wondering what I am doing. Who would read my stuff? My mother is long gone (and she died at the young age of 65, so if I follow her footsteps, I better get going!) so she can no longer be here to read my stuff. Maybe I should write for her as she was in her 30's and 40's. It's a thought.

    But my mom is always in the back of my mind as I write for some reason.