Thursday, November 22, 2012

Why I Became a Writer

Today a number of writers are trying an experiment. We're all writing on one theme and linking our sites. Today, we're writing about why we write. Watch my video, read the text, and then check out the other blogs! The links are below. --John



And here is Sunny Frazier, answering the exact same question


IS THE CHOICE TO WRITE EVEN AN OPTION?

I've often wondered if writing is “nature” or “nurture.” While vocabulary, grammar and craft can be taught, imagination fostered, are some writers born with the gift and drive to write?

I grew up in a home without books. We were a Navy family and household items are shipped by weight. The military only covers so much when you move. Books are heavy. I didn't realize this growing up and mistakenly thought my family was purposely depriving me of books.

However, my father is from the South, North Carolina tobacco farmers. In the winter, men would sit around the potbelly stove at Bell's store and swap stories while they whittled and drank bottles of RC laced with peanuts. When my father was home from cruises, he would tell stories at bedtime. I grew up hearing tales of Uncle Doll, 100 years old with knots on his head who gnashed his teeth and chased my father and his cousin from his house. The laborer during the tobacco harvest who asked my grandmother for a glass of baking soda and water, then promptly dropped dead of a heart attack. The glass sat on the shelf above the fireplace, never to be used again, a reminder that death could strike at any time

Every tale had a purpose, a moral for a child to absorb. From these stories I picked up rhythm, cadence, color and the art of storytelling. Without influence or exposure to great writing, I blindly found my own way and my own voice.

In school, I was taught to write strict, boring, soul-killing compositions. Eventually, I broke away and wrote a series of stories for my classmates. Fairy tales where Snow White and Cinderella were transported to the 1960's and did the Watusi in mini skirts and go-go boots. As the stories were being secretly passed around in class, the teacher confiscated them. We heard him laughing at his desk while I reddened with embarrassment. He made me stay after class and said, “Do you realize how talented you are?”

No. I thought everyone could write. I never considered what I did as special. I'd kept it secret for so long that, until I was 12, nobody was there to mentor me. After that, there was no stopping me. I was the kid who loved essay questions on tests because I could pen my opinions and not be restricted by “True,” “False” or multiple choices. I was elected editor of the high school newspaper, guaranteed to kill one's social life. When I joined the Navy and they denied me the rate of Journalist to make me a Dental Tech, I volunteered to write for the base paper at every new duty station. Washington D.C. took notice of me. I got out and went to college on the G.I. Bill for a degree in journalism.

I worked as the token woman on a city newspaper. When I realized I was underpaid, I confronted the publisher. He said I should have a man supporting me. I walked away from journalism job and turned to fiction writing. When I went to work as a narcotics secretary for the sheriff's department, I discovered I was a mystery writer.

Why did I become a writer? Because I had the tools and the instinct at an early age. Because I had initiative and never let obstacles stand in my way. Because I never doubted myself or let others discourage me. Because I pushed to have my words heard. Because I had no choice.

I am a writer.  


Kyle Van Sant                    http://pkvansant.blogspot.com/

Charlotte San Juan          charlottesanjuan.wordpress.com







Chris Swinney http://clswinney.com




33 comments:

  1. I liked the video explaining why. Something different. And Sunny, you've mentioned your teacher before and I find that just great that someone would recognize and encourage talent. By the way, could you please change my link to www.stephenbrayton.wordpress.com. Thanks.

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  2. Hey John and Sunny, I enjoyed both the video (John) as well as the written piece from you Sunny. We all have reasons for writing, but what i think we all have in common is that we need to get the beast out and writing is our stage.

    Augie

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    1. Absolutely! Something in there needs to come out!

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  3. Both the video and post were excellent. Thanks for sharing.

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  4. Merci from Canada for your lovely present, Sunny. Just like you, most of us can't NOT write.

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  5. I love hearing the differnt paths we take as writers to get to that place of 'author.'
    John-I loved that you shared your hearing disability writing story in an audio (and video) format.
    Sunny-I always appreciate your one-pointed focus and clarity. Learning how you got to where you are is very interesting.

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    1. You've known me for a long time, Cora. I'm so glad you still find me interesting!

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  6. Both your stories are moving. This is such a wonderful way to learn more about you.

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  7. You two are amazing! John, love the video! and of course the words you use!

    Sunny, I love how you speak your mind and write so well. Thank you both for participating in this!

    Chris

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  8. Fine posts, both of you. John, you were fortunate to have a brother show you the magic of writing for the sake of writing; but i expect you would have gotten there on your own eventually, because you were born a writer, and as Sunny has wisely pointed out, you (and Sunny, too) had no other option.

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  9. Thank you, John, for this video. Lovely photography, too. I have been taking part in a similar thing [The Next Big Thing blog meme], with the chapbook I share with John Dotson ... you can read my post here here

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    1. I will check that out, Caroline, and say hi to John. Haven't seen him since Wales.

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  10. Great posts from John and Sunny. Always interesting to see how someone got started (and couldn't stop) writing.

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    1. It's a compulsion isn't it. But a great one.

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  11. John, I enjoyed your video tremendously!
    And, Sunny, your article. I feel the same way: writing for me was not a choice; it just "was."

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    1. So glad to be a part of such a great community!

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  12. John, Right up until the last second I kept expecting a Yetti to jump in front of the camera. Wonderful blog!

    Sunny, The last three sentences of your post said it all, and I know a lot of people who can relate to that, including me.

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    1. There are some who have claimed that I'm the big hairy yeti. I wish I could disagree.

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  13. Sunny, you kick ass in every post you do, and this one is just great! You are an inspiration to me, always.

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  14. John - I teach too, as you know, and one of the quotes I use in my class is : Fiction is experience plus something magic. I love the magic you refer to in your vlog - it speaks to me, or rather, shouts to me.

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  15. One deaf and one blind-- but you both found your way to your destiny. Perhaps our destinies ARE written in the stars... Gripping stories, both of them. Thank you, John and Sunny.

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    1. Thank you Marta. Together we would have made a terrible sitcom in the 1980s.

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  16. John, so many good points for me in your comments. Well said. As a teacher myself, I know what you mean by teaching craft, not the magic which, of course, you have in your prose and, I'm sure, in your poetry, which I haven't yet seen. I love the forest in the background; great fit for your words.

    Sunny,I love what you wrote and how you think. I must copy this and read it to students. The Why I Write topic comes up so often, in different ways. You really captured what it's all about.

    Thank you both, and hope you'll check out the just-posted essay on my website.

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    1. That's great. Thank you. Yes, the magic always has to be there.

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  17. Sunny, It's obvious - you ARE a writer.

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  18. Thanks, Joh, for sharing such a personal story. It often amazes me that some small thing, maybe not even directly aimed at us, will indeed change our lives. I got back into the "English" mode after a thirty year detour in mathematics by an absolutely random event. Both my entrance into mathematics, and my exit, were unexpected and small events. Each changed my life dramatically.

    Again, thanks for sharing.

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    1. People with degrees outside English are often the best writers. They have something to write about, after all!

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