Why I Write

By Victoria Marshal

 

If you’re not a writer the compunction to sit down and scribble stories about people who don’t exist, on a piece of paper for hours on end, must seem strange. I’ve been asked many times what made me pick up a pen. Why do I write? I’m always taken off guard by the question. I usually shrug and say, “I don’t know.” But the question always gets me thinking. Why do I write?

It has taken me a long time to know that I write to understand what’s happening around me. Typically things I have no control over.

On paper, I try to sort out why the world behaves as it does. And when I can’t make sense of things I have the luxury of reordering the world of my story until it does make sense.

When I sat down to writer bookended by Beauty Queens I was puzzling through one of those difficult to understand moments. The Terri Schaivo case was in the headlines every day. I read the stories of her husband’s side her parent’s side, and what the doctors were saying with interest, but that really struck me was the reaction of people who didn’t even know this woman. People were broke into the hospital to give Terri water after she’d been removed from life support.

I was intrigued by the people on both sides of the argument who were camped outside the hospice. There were death threats against the husband and his family. I was astonished by the passion for the life of a stranger. This was something I didn’t understand.

Inevitably, some of these elements worked their way into my story. It crept in unconsciously at first. When it came to the place in Bookended by Beauty Queens where Val is beaten up after a party, I’m not sure I knew even then. It wasn’t until I finished writing and started the editing process that I fully comprehended what I’d written.

Silly me, I thought I’d been working on a romance with a generational subplot.

Bookended by Beauty Queens blossomed into a deeper book that reviewers have described as “rich in character and emotion” and at the same time “hilarious and touching.”  The story evolved into so much more than I planned because of my bafflement of human nature.

The book is ultimately the journey for self-discover for the lead character Angie Palmer. In the end, it was a journey of discovery for me as well. Even if I never publish another novel, I will continue to write so I can understand.