Why I Write
Basically, I can’t help it.
Writing can be a relief. We pour feelings into a journal that no one reads. We address these thoughts to ourselves, or someone with whom we need to be in silent conversation. Perhaps the fellowship of a writing group, a patient friend or two, or a blog sustains us. We’re not trying to hit the New York Times best-seller list with a memoir or novel. We’re not in competition with a living (or dead) author. Our writing is not goal-oriented, in a commercial sense. It’s about ordering disorderly thoughts, getting to know ourselves and connecting with others.
Writing can be a form of escape. This is sometimes tricky. Our characters may compel us to face problems we wish to flee. We try to shape our narratives only to find them shaping us.
But why did I write Where Your Treasure Is? Why this particular book? As I typed the first draft, the story’s characters and events were as completely new and thrilling to me as the love experienced by the heroine and her hero; though the longer I lived with Winifred and Court, and the characters whose lives are affected by their choices, I began to recognize themes and questions that have been with me for years and probably always will be.
When I was a child, none of that was my concern. I made up stories for the romance, action, and adventure--and to be thoroughly transported into another time. Whether I was playing Barbie dolls with a friend in her basement or at the pool, or spending time in the yard by myself, on long car trips, and in between library books (and because of them), I freely lifted from what I enjoyed—adult and children's books, music, television and comics. I tried out plots and rehearsed dialogue, costumed my characters, drew them, and endlessly embroidered scenes.
Really, it’s my mother’s fault.
Mary Lu held me on her lap and read to me before I could speak. She sang and chanted nursery rhymes, pulled out the big book of illustrated Bible stories at bedtime, let me explore the tiny downtown library on my own, or tucked a couple of dollars in my pocket and turned me loose in the children’s book section of Ivey’s. She taught me how to use a dictionary—one with pages like tissue paper, tabs, and black and white pictures. She put a slender, gold cardboard box in my fifth-grade bookbag. Inside the box were red, blue, and green pencils with “M. C. Bunn” stamped on each one.
Skip forward about forty years. Mary Lu was the first person to hear the opening pages of Treasure. We spent many hours hunkered on the couch with my late English pointer, Bella, while I wrote. Mama could not escape her growing dementia, but the three of us sought some relief from its effects, huddling close on late afternoons as supper cooked in the oven, sharing a new story and wondering where it would take us.
Mary Lu was always a good listener even when I thought she had fallen asleep. Her eye would suddenly open, its glance piercing and alert. “That doesn’t sound right,” she’d say. “Read that part again!”
One year after a series a mini-strokes, she’d already begun to forget much of what happened during a day, or within the last five minutes, but she still remembered the box of pencils she’d given me in elementary school. When I finished the first draft of Treasure in early December, 2011 she said, “I always knew you could write a book.”
The cover of Where Your Treasure Is will be the subject of my next blog. Bellastoria Press is hosting a virtual Greet the Author event so I can say “thank you” to everybody, Feb. 10, 5-6 P.M. Join us! There’s a sign-up link on the Contact page. I can’t wait to share the finalized book cover with you and introduce the great team at Bellastoria, among others, who have been such an important part of this journey.
Wish you could see Treasure's book cover and be with us, dear Mary Lu.
Presales for Where Your Treasure Is begin March 23.