Thursday, March 24, 2016

Why Write?

I've spent three-fourths of my life to date studying human behavior. Psychology is my first intellectual passion, so why do I write fiction? Most especially, why do I write lesbian romance?

Honestly, I've always written stories in my head, mostly to entertain myself on long road-trips, but occasionally to entertain friends and family. Eight years ago, on a long flight out west with some very bored colleagues, I told them a story that I made up on a road-trip through Grand Teton National Park. I thought the story was about what would happen if a National Park Service employee who loved her job and worked hard (for very little pay, for a long time) to get exactly that job in that place met the love of her life and discovered her soul-mate had to work in the city. What happiness would this heroine decide to keep pursuing? If she couldn't have both, what would she sacrifice? Her love of meaningful work and the life purpose she had already chosen, or her chance to grow true love and companionship? What would she do if the deck was further stacked--if a large chunk of society didn't condone the relationship? If her soul-mate turned out to be another woman?

Hooked by the emotional dilemmas (my colleagues were psychology nuts as well), they encouraged me to just write the story--to make it a novel. Thanks to some inspiration from National Write a Novel Month (, I discovered I did want to and could write a novel. That story became the lesbian romance, A Walk Away published by Affinity. But I also discovered I wanted to write lots of novels. And as I scribbled out plot after plot from mystery thriller and absurd horror to traditional contemporary romance I made another discovery. I had an epiphany. All my stories, no matter the genre or setting, were all about love.
More specifically, everything I write is about how letting someone love you (being completely vulnerable) is the scariest, hardest, and most rewarding thing you can do with your life.
Elated and thinking myself rather clever and self-aware, I told my encouraging colleagues about my epiphany. They smiled benignly and said something along the lines of, "Of course. Why do you think we told you to write? It's something the world needs to be reminded of again and again."

So I write, because nothing else sticks in the mind and makes a philosophy tangible and true like a story. I write because reading is one of the first places so many people test and observe behaviors, and I want to inspire people to learn to behave more vulnerably. Behave vulnerably enough to let someone else love you. The greatest gift we can give, the best stories we will ever write, are the ones where we let ourselves be loved.

I think this is especially true when social norms, or our individual perceptions of social norms, tell us that being that vulnerable with someone else isn't appropriate (like when we fall in love with someone of the same gender, or a different race, or a different religion). Letting yourself be vulnerable enough to be loved by someone opens up unknown worlds, unexpected joys, and contributes your single drop of inner peace to the filling of the world peace bucket. At least that is what I believe, based on my study of human behavior, and so I write. Especially lesbian romance.

Like heart rocks, meaning is where you find it and writing helps us do that.

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