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


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