I had the privilege of meeting Laura McNeill at the RT Booklovers Convention last year, and I’m excited to welcome her here today! Thanks so much for sharing your writing passion, Laura!
Why I Write
Writing is a calling. It’s a part of me—an extension of myself. Writing, that amazing and sometimes elusive trifecta of plot, character, and emotion, equally fills me with joy and challenges me. It’s what I contemplate during stolen moments in my day and before I fall asleep at night.
Bestselling author Jodi Picoult has been asked many times why she writes, and I love her answer from this Huffington Post article because it resonates so much with me.
I write because I can’t not write. If I have an idea circling in my brain and I can’t get it out, it begins to poison my waking existence, until I’m unable to function in polite company or even hold a simple conversation. I write because it’s a way of puzzling out answers to situations in the world that I don’t understand.
I share Picoult’s passion, and though I have always loved writing, I didn’t start out my career with the goal of being a novelist. I was an English major, a journalist, and a girl who dabbled with law school. I’ve been a public relations director, had a job in pharmaceutical sales, and now work as an instructional designer for a major university.
It was my time as a reporter in TV news, though, when I was really bitten by the writing bug and the possibility of actually writing a novel began to gel in my mind. Challenged every day with putting together new, fresh stories by a 5 pm deadline, I learned to craft words quickly, creatively, and effectively. I interviewed everyone from senators and schoolteachers to police officers and peanut farmers. I spent time in court, at crime scenes, and in the classroom. And with each assignment I covered, if I asked the right questions, really listened, and kept an open mind, I often discovered a bit of magic.
With those bits of magic, that wealth of experience, and dozens upon dozens of story ideas, I took a break from the news business to raise my children. It was then that I really felt a compelling drive to write, to create, and to share stories with the world. I wanted to become a novelist—not just any novelist—a really good one. So, I began studying books on writing, attending conferences and lectures, and soaking all of the advice I possibly could from experienced writers, hoping to find the key to author success. In turn, I wrote terrible first drafts, revised and polished those awful manuscripts, and plodded forward; often questioning what in the world I’d ever been thinking to set such a lofty goal for myself.
What I quickly found is that there are no shortcuts, no real rulebooks, no secrets, or special advice to make a book sing. It’s work. Hard work. And it’s not for the faint of heart. Writing requires a lot of trial and error, much staring at a blinking cursor on a laptop screen, and long, solitary hours with your derriere in a chair. It takes tenacity, a will to persevere, and an almost reckless willingness to try and fail, and try again.
It’s also a dangerous gamble, an opening of one’s heart and soul and laying everything out for the world to examine, weigh, and measure. And when it’s all said and done, whether it’s your first, fifth, or fifteenth novel, it’s done with the goal of reaching readers, of moving people, and leaving a lasting impression long after the last page has been read.
For me, writing is not, and never will be, about fame, fortune, or the New York Times bestseller list. The reward is connecting with readers. The reward is when sharing your novels makes people cry, laugh, smile, remember, think, dream, or imagine. The reward comes when readers say that your book struck a tender chord or touched their hearts. For a writer, there is no better feeling or higher compliment—and that is why I write.
Laura McNeill is the author of CENTER OF GRAVITY. When she is not running, reading or drinking coffee- she is hard at work on her next book. Look for SISTER DEAR on 4/19/16.