Why I Write

My writing career began around age four or five.  I told my dad that I wanted to write a story about Woody Woodpecker, one of my favorite cartoon characters.  He took a piece of notebook paper and hand wrote the story in pencil.  It must have been a work of art; he laughed hysterically as he wrote it.  Daddy kept that story until the day he died.  After his death my stepmother cleaned out a cedar chest where he kept his treasures, and she found the story and gave it to me.  I can even remember the day I dictated it to him!  Trust me; that memory is an unexpected treasure from the past that warmed my heart for days afterward.

I wrote nothing from that long ago day until the year 2002.  At that time my son inspired me to try my hand at writing when he wrote a novel himself.  That first effort is still in a folder on my computer, but I submitted my second book to a small press called Oak Tree Press.  Oak Tree sponsors a yearly contest whose prize is publication of your novel.  To my great and utter surprise, I won, and my book A New Leaf was published in 2004.

Since that time I’ve written many more books.  I could have finished more, but I had a full time job as a teacher, and that limited my writing time.  Why do I do it?  It isn’t for the money; very few authors ever get rich off their writing.  It isn’t for fame and recognition because I’m not on the New York Times bestseller list.  No, I write because I can’t help myself.

My characters reveal themselves to me and demand that I tell their story for them.  They get under my skin and nag me until I seat myself at my computer and let them express themselves.  I’m totally consumed by their problems and triumphs, and until I give them resolution I can’t get them off my mind.  I’ve even been known to take my computer on vacation so I won’t lose an entire day of writing.  Often, after a book is finished I have a hard time letting my characters go.  I’ve written one trilogy because of that letting go problem.  I couldn’t let the Lovinggood family go after I finished that first book.

Writing gives me a sense of satisfaction and allows me to express my creativity in a way that I’ve never felt before.  I don’t cook anymore and my house needs dusting, but I can’t bring myself to care. I’m having too much fun.

About Elaine Cantrell

Elaine Cantrell was born and raised in South Carolina. She has a Master’s Degree in Personnel Services from Clemson University and is a member of Alpha Delta Kappa, an international honorary sorority for women educators. She is also a member of Romance Writers of America. Her first novel A New Leaf was the 2003 winner of the Timeless Love Contest and was published in 2004 by Oak Tree Press. When she isn't writing you can find Elaine playing with her dog or maybe collecting more vintage Christmas ornaments
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12 Responses to Why I Write

  1. Jeff Salter says:

    wow. This is one of those columns where I could copy it, paste it, and change a few dates and names… and it would also be MY story.
    My first little “verses” were transcribed by my mom in Apr ’59, when I was a few months past age 8. I was able to write at that point — 3rd grade — but it was probably a matter of Mom realizing that if she didn’t write it for me, that I’d either forget or just wouldn’t get around to it.
    Both my parents were strong — but not pushy — encouragers of my early writing.


  2. People who don’t write don;t know the compulsion, nor do they understand that the characters will take on their own lives and demand to be heard, (or refuse to cooperate).
    I only know , barely know, a few writers who have made it to making a full living through their works alone.
    If anyone is writing for the money,I am sorry for them.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I love this post because it explains perfectly why I write.
    How wonderful that your dad kept that first story you created all those years.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. JC Jacobson says:

    I love writing, but I’ve done more writing about subjects rather than creating my own characters. This post is so interesting because even though it doesn’t “describe me”, I feel like one day it could. Very inspiring!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Patricia Kiyono says:

    Great post, Elaine. I’m so glad your son’s writing inspired you to return to storytelling!


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