Passionate About Writing

passionate about writing
I’m passionate about writing because it keeps my brain working. I want my stories to be accurate and interesting, and in doing the research to make that happen, I learn new things. For example, in working on “Feeding Bella” I learned that ketamine, a veterinary anesthetic, causes hallucinations in humans; its street name is Special K. Or, again, researching the Great Depression, I learned that gasoline was ten cents a gallon and ham was ten cents a pound.
great depression gas prices
When I first retired, which I did at age fifty-two, I became depressed—much to my surprise. I‘d looked forward to more time for cooking and gardening. But filling my life with things I used to get done evenings and weekends felt hollow. And I hated to keep introducing myself by what I used to do—as in, “I’m a retired vice president for academic affairs and dean of the faculty.” Before retirement, I hadn’t realized the extent to which my identity, and my friendships, were tied to my work life.


For me, writing has replaced my former career. It engages many skills—especially research skills—from my academic past and it’s enlarged my social circle. I’ve never met a dull, boring writer.
passionate about writing
I always excelled academically. Now getting a story published is like getting an A on my report card; books are like making the dean’s list or Phi Beta Kappa.


My writing brings in very little income, so thank goodness I don’t write to put food on the table. Instead, writing fuels my imagination.


I’ve always written. In high school it was plays for the student body, poems for my boyfriend, the junior class prophesy and the senior class will. In college I tested out of composition and so had only course-specific instruction, such as how to write research reports. From then through my twenty-seven year career, I wrote academic tomes.


passionate about writing
Now I write fiction, and with fiction, anything is possible. I’ve dabbled in historical fiction, mysteries, fantasy, magical realism, memoir, and memoir-based fiction. I’m passionate about writing because it can take me anywhere, real or imagined.


I’m passionate about writing because it’s cheaper than therapy and just as effective when dealing with depression. My most recent depression descended in 2014-2015 during my bout with breast cancer that put me under the thumb of the medical establishment for twelve months, frequently getting treatment five days a week. From that experience I published “Beast and the Beauty” (magical realism), “Art Heals” and “Repair or Redecorate after Breast Surgery” (two personal essays about reclaiming my body via tattoos), and “Hindsight” (an essay on how my experience changed my perspective on my years with an invalid mother). Writing allows me to know myself and others in new ways.


passionate about writing
BOTTOM LINE: Writing is my passion because it’s my lifeline.

Writing From Your Experiences

writing from your experiences; man standing by waterfall
As a writer, some of your best material comes from your body. Using all of your senses, every day will infuse your writing with rich details and believable depictions of events and emotions.


I’ll give you a concrete example. I love getting massages. In my story “Beautiful Bones,” published in the Connecticut Review, I conglomerated various massage experiences and settings to provide a detailed and sensuous description of a massage to accompany the recipients thoughts and anxieties before turning to magical realism at the end. I call this a case of direct application, in which a character is having the experience I drew upon to describe it.
writing from experience; leg massage


But consider the use of indirect application: you could just as easily incorporate many massage moves into the description of a sex scene. Or consider the case of a waitress whose partner offers a foot rub after a long day at work.

For any experience, try to note as many of your senses as possible.

What happens when you are angry? What happens to your heart rate, breathing, stomach? Do you blush? Go white around the lips? Does your body tense? Which part(s)? What happens to you voice—everything from pitch to loudness to speed of speaking. Now consider someone you know well: how do you know when s/he is angry? What are the visual and auditory cues?


Food and drink are more than taste!

In fact, eighty percent of taste is actually smell. When olfactory cues are absent, people can’t tell the difference between bits of apple and bits of onion. And then there are the issues of temperature, texture, and spiciness. How complex is the experience?


For writers, everything is material.

Whether it’s a walk in the woods, giving blood, taking a taxi from the airport to a hotel, the frustration of tax time, or just being bored out of your skull, pay attention and use your experience.

How has an experience shaped your writing?