Thursday, January 16, 2014

Joyce Alton shares Why She Writes

My friends at Agent Query Connect are doing blog hops this month.  I've agreed to visit two folks, and a couple of them have some posts for us here.

Today's guest is Joyce Alton, a Moderator for the Speculative Fiction Group at AQC.  She hatches all sorts of fun things for the members of Speculative Fiction group.  I am honored to have her visit The Write Time and share with us why she writes.

 Why Do You Write

Why do you write? Two or three reasons probably pop into your head right away. I get asked the question and I draw a blank. At first anyway.

Some of the usual answers you get from others are: to get published, to share their ideas, they love books, it fulfills a need, or they want more of a certain kind of book.

I went to a writers’ conference as a child and the one piece of information that has stuck with me through the years since is that there are no new ideas. We play off each other, twist tropes, create new angles, or spoof others’ stories. I hated this concept, by the way, and wanted to reject it. That’s probably why I remember it so well. It’s why I try my best not to make my stories like other ones I’ve read, seen, or heard.

With thousands of other people putting down their stories and trying to share them these days, I suppose the question of “why do you write?” comes up a lot. To start with, I don’t believe the question should open up competitiveness, condemning one person’s reason in order to justify someone else’s reason.

I draw a blank because I didn’t have a reason at first. I’m one of those annoying people who’ve been telling and writing stories since they could first communicate. I grew up in a home where my mom wrote, I had aunts and uncles who wrote, and great-aunts and uncles, second cousins … you get the picture. Genetics had more to do with it than anything.

As a child writer, I enjoyed making up stories and sharing them with other people. Mom always read her stories out loud to us; so again, I recognized that stories were meant to be shared. Other children and teachers were the best audiences. They enjoyed what I wrote.

The downside to having literary minded relations is that you don’t get such adoring feedback. You get challenged, stretched, and grow as a writer. An older cousin—my best friend—also wrote and we beta read for each other. I learned the concept of critiquing and being critiqued from her. We even wrote a book together. I’m chagrined now to realize that she drew upon the works of other writers for her inspiration and I naively thought she was so original and brilliant. She was certainly more well-read than I in those genres. Not that she plagiarized, but reading through the material now, I can see where other authors heavily influenced what she wrote. She also had great voice and style and she pushed me to develop a voice of my own.

I was in my teens by then and I wrote stories to try to get a flawless critique back from my cousin. As I gained other writing friends, the same reason drove me. I wrote to please my audience and what they wanted. But at the same time, I was starting to ask myself what I wanted to read. I read certain genres but gravitated toward others when I sat down to write. Why was that?

In my late teens to young adult years the answer to that was: because I don’t care much for what has been written, even though I enjoy the elements of those genres. I wanted to write what someone like me would want to read. And I did. These were my most prolific years. And I found that I could still please and surprise the other people who had read my work, however, I also discovered that what I like to read and what others like to read aren’t always going to be the same thing. I had detractors who subjectively didn’t like my style, my scenarios, or even my characters. They were few, yet I’m grateful to them for helping me understand this side of the nature of writing and sharing.

Then I left home and I didn’t write for a decade.

I think I jotted down a couple of story ideas during that time. I didn’t have a computer, I was working two jobs, going through school, trying to be a responsible adult, and experiencing the fullest social life I’d ever known. I didn’t read much during that time either, unless textbooks and other nonfiction count. I was living, storing up ideas, always intending to go back to writing, but never actually making it.

It wasn’t until that decade had passed, I had become a wife and mother, and my life had taken another set of turns that I picked up writing again. I’ve been going full steam since. I write now because it’s therapeutic, it helps me escape, it helps me deal with the grimmer realities of life, because it gives me power. It’s a thrill one moment and makes me a slave the next. I’m always anxious to be working on my writing and I’m always brainstorming. I have a good life balance worked out now but if anyone were to ask me what I wanted to do for fun if I could do anything, the answer would be writing. I love to create and explore. I love the challenge of trying to reach an older and tougher audience. And there’s still nothing as satisfactory as having someone read your work and then say, “Give me more!”

My reasons for writing have changed through the years and I expect they will continue to the older I get.

And as there are no wrong answers, why do you write?

Visit Joyce Alton's blog  Yesternight's Voyage.  She has all kinds of great advice, ideas, and general information.

Thanks for hopping over to my blog, and the best of luck with all your endeavors.

1 comment:

SC Author said...

I loved this. I used to think I had a easy reason as to why I write - I want to be heard, make a change, I feel horrible if I don't write - but I'm not so sure anymore!