“He’s Just Like Me!” – Why I Write What I Write
September 17, 2018
First of all, a word of explanation: this is the first post in a new monthly series called This Writer’s Voice. Please note that the series is not about the elusive concept known as “voice” in writing. It’s a series about writing, looking at the hows and whats and whys of writing, both my writing and the writing of other people. I hope you’ll find it interesting and I hope you find some ideas that might help you in your writing journey.
On my website page about my logo/purpose, in the Words section, you’ll find a bit about where I’ve come from as a writer. That partly answers the question of why I write. Why I write what I write takes that question further.
When my honorary nephews were small, I wrote a few picture books specifically for them. They were so one-of-a-kind that I don’t even have copies of them. This picture is of the first such book I created for the first of the trio of boys. It wasn’t really a picture book, but instead was a book about rabbits in the shape of a rabbit. (I also made the bunny that accompanied it. Bunny was all ears while Oldest Guy read to him.)
The next books were written – and illustrated – for the boys when the youngest of the trio was born. And therein lies the story of the main reason I write. When my cousin read Middle Guy his book, he responded excitedly, “He’s just like me!”
That is why I write what I write. I want kids (and adults) to be able to see themselves in the books I write. I want there to be the excitement Middle Guy felt, but I also want my readers to feel the deep-seated relief that “somebody out there gets me” that I yearn for when I read.
When I was growing up, although I loved to read and re-read, and RE-re-read the books I had, there weren’t that many books that gave me that “somebody out there gets me” feeling. One character, Anne Shirley (of Green Gables and elsewhere), did give me that feeling. In Anne, I found an imaginative kindred spirit, and she will always be a kindred spirit.
I write the characters I didn’t find in the books I read, beloved though those other books were — the shy kids, the theatre and music kids, the fearful kids, the kids who sit on the sidelines, the kids who don’t fit in, and who sometimes take pride in not fitting in. There is more room these days for all kinds of characters in books – so I write for others who are like me in some way, and who are looking for that “just like me!” experience, that “somebody gets me” experience. Because somebody DOES get you, unknown reader of the future. I look forward to my books connecting with you.
If you’re a writer, why do YOU write?
Next week, I’ll be posting about the wonderful book Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan.
In the meantime, here’s to books, encouragement, teaching and hope!