Thinking About A Writer

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Today I want to talk about a writer.

You never heard of her. She never sold a book to a commercial publisher, but she probably wrote the equivalent of twenty novels in her too-short life. She briefly joined our writing group about ten years ago, at which time she was working on a great story about redneck vampires in the backwoods of South Carolina, until Dead Until Dark hit bookstore shelves and took the wind out of my friend’s sails. At that point she turned to writing on the internet. She was well-read in her online communities, and for good reason. The woman could turn a phrase like nobody’s business. I used to beg her to try and sell some of her original work, but she wasn’t interested. She was an editor for the newspaper, which meant she saw her name in print all the time. That aspect of being a writer didn’t matter to her. The money also didn’t matter. Hunting for an agent, writing and polishing a book for an editor to buy, all of that seemed too much to her. She wasn’t writing for anyone else to read. She was writing for herself.

There’s a quote – “Everyone has a novel inside them.” I don’t know if that’s really true. I do think everyone who wants to write should write, but should also know for certain why they want to do it. If you want to be a novelist because you want to appear on television and install gold-plated sinks in your bathrooms, you aren’t doing it for the right reasons. My friend knew long ago that she wrote only for the joy of seeing her own words come together to make stories. Writing made her happy, more than anything else she ever did. Her idea of a thrilling Saturday night was curling up on her couch with her laptop, and writing with her friends until they were all nodding off.

She lost her battle with cancer a few days ago, so there won’t be any more words. Most of you will probably never run across any of her writing. It will fade over time as others join the communities she wrote in. But that’s okay, because she didn’t do it to be remembered. She didn’t want to be famous or wealthy.

She just wrote.

On days when I’m struggling with a scene, trying to beat it into submission so I can move on to the next, I’ll remember my friend, and how easily the words came for her. All because she wasn’t asking anything more of them than that they make her world a shinier place.

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