Friday, 16 December 2011

Why do I write?

This is one of those times of year when I miss my mother. She died in 2002 at the age of 52. At the time it was sudden and shocking and I still haven't got over it. I didn't get chance to say goodbye so I wrote her a letter. Then I had to write a speech to read out at her funeral. After that I returned to the stressful job I was doing in the City, working in the back office, finalising documentation for the Derivatives traders. I was working 11-12 hour days and under a great deal of pressure. It's difficult to grieve in that environment so I took a career break just before I got married at the age of 29.
After I got married, I thought 'what shall I do now?'. I wanted to have children but not right away. I remembered that writing the goodbye letter to my mother and the funeral speech had made me feel better. Writing was like therapy.
I wrote a great deal as a child when we lived in the middle of nowhere in Yorkshire. I wrote a series of stories about a cuddly pink mouse I owned and sent them to Ladybird. I still have the beautifully-worded rejection letter. I won a story competition at the age of nine for a story called 'Bottle on the Beach'. Writing has always made me feel happy.
I thought back to the three weeks I spent putting together my dissertation for university about the changing role of women in Italy. I went home as it was the Easter holidays. It was spring, the sun shone through my bedroom window and the garden was in full bloom. My mum brought me cups of tea and discussed bits of it with me every now and again. I'd enjoyed creating an 8000 word piece of work and I got 68%. This made me think that I should be capable of creating a novel.
My mum liked to write. She wrote poetry and had been writing a novel for more than ten years when she died. I never got to read any of her novel but I knew that it was set in Italy and Yorkshire and that there was a love story in it somewhere. So I decided to use those ideas as my inspiration. My parents met on holiday in Italy and we'd been driving to Italy every summer since I could remember. As a child I loved the sound of Italian and I made up my mind that I was going to learn how to speak it one day. I went on to study Italian and French at university and I lived in Grenoble and Siena during the third year of my degree.
Writing my novel was initially part of the grieving process. It had to be an upbeat genre as I wanted to write to be uplifted. In January I'm going to send it to more agents and enter more competitions and do my best to get it published. Then I need to get on with Book 2. This seems like such a mammoth task. But writing is all about perseverance and I shall carry on writing until hopefully I get somewhere.
This is my last blog post of 2011. (My husband has asked me to stay away from blogging, Twitter and Facebook over the Christmas period and I feel I ought to try!) I'd like to thank everyone who has been reading my blog since I started it in October. I've really enjoyed writing it. I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. See you in 2012!
I'd be interested to read your comments about why you write or anything else.


  1. This rang so many bells! My much loved father died in 2001, and there isn't a day that passes that I don't think about him and miss him so much. I was thinking about writing about him on my blog only this morning. He read my first ms, and enjoyed it. My second was inspired by the deep grief I felt after he died - it was a cathartic process. I've always wanted to write - but at times life, career etc got in the way. The determination is always there, though. Good luck, and have a happy Christmas and a spectacular New Year to come. Lots of love. R xxx

  2. My parents died in 2007 within 8 months of each other and I think I'm still suffering from shock and grief. I've always loved writing but I too had a career in the City so never had the time until I became ill. After that and then my parents' deaths, I realised one should do what makes one happy - so this year, I started writing full time. As you say Anita, it's definitely cathartic! Giving up blogging etc for Christmas? Are you sure? Have a great time. XX

  3. My eyes are stinging with tears reading this, your mum would be so proud of the things you've done. My mum passed in 2005 and although she lived to see her grandchildren she now has her first great granddaughter and it breaks my heart that she's not here. I love your blog and all the interesting help you give to people wanting to write, keep it up and have a lovely Christmas.

  4. I'm sending you a cyber hug. Sorry to hear about your mom. I hope you have a very merry Christmas.

    As for why I write, the best answer I can give is that it's part of who I am. I've been a writer since elementary school. It's as natural to me as breathing. I do it everyday and find a lot of comfort in it.

  5. This is a lovely post Anita. I too am sending you a cyber hug. I am sorry to hear that you lost your mum. I think it is lovely that you share a passion for writing and Italy. I wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas and look forward to catching up with your progress in 2012. I have written since I was a girl too. I wrote a story when I was about 9, but I didn't submit it. Recently I have told my children about it and they thought perhaps I should attempt to rewrite it. I think I am still ascertaining which is the best genre for me to concentrate on. As a result of participating in NaNo, not only did I start on one book, the seeds of ideas also formed for another three books.

  6. Sending sympathy, Anita - losing your mum must have been overwhelmingly hard. The book you've created is a real tribute to her and a sign of your grit too.

    Take care, and thank you for your blog posts. Hope you have a good break over Christmas.

  7. Writing IS therapeutic, Anita. It fills the void inside us, and offers hope. For me, I write to laugh. I write to make sense of the world around me. It's escapism, and that's therapeutic, too!

    Happy holidays, and happy writing. Always!

  8. I'm sorry to hear about your mom, Anita. Writing brings me comfort, too. I'll be cheering you on in your writing journey. Merry Christmas and have a sweet 2012!

  9. I've also done most of my writing since my mom died - of course, she died when I was ten, so it's impossible to say that I *wouldn't* have written, had that not been the case. I agree, writing *is* good therapy, but I think I would have written, anyway. Made up imaginary friends and scenarios and stories from the time I was quite small, and alas, lack the talent to express my creativity through painting, dance, or baked goods. So, writing it is. :-)

  10. Sending you a cyber hug from me too. I haven't lived with my Mum since I was 14, but I can't imagine not having her in my life. So sorry to hear about your Mum.

    I've really enjoyed your blog posts this year and look forward to reading more next year.

    Hope you and yours have a wonderful Christmas & that 2012 brings you the success you deserve.x

  11. Hi,

    Have a great break from blogging: family comes first no matter how obsessed we become with our writing. My hubby always thinks its Christmas if I periodically quit blogging for a few weeks, and at least I know he misses my company.

    I lost my mum in 2000 and it's only quite recent when I felt able to go through her personal things. Her diaries and journals are wonderful to read, so many memories and amazing things I didn't know about aspects of our family on both sides have come to light. Inclusive commendations and medals for bravery in differing wars. I could write a book spanning late Regency to Victorian and Edwardian as a family saga, there is that much info. This may sound strange, but at times I forget she's gone and have often without thinking started to drive home when ever I happen to be travelling along the M5 toward junction 18. Many times I've taken the slip road and had to go right round and back onto the motorway heading east. Crazy.


  12. Thank you all for your kind comments. Writing this post made me feel so much better which echoes what I wrote here. I'm so lucky to have such lovely followers of my blog! Thanks again.

  13. I used writing as therapy (as I was never offered any from anywhere else) when my brother was killed in a road accident aged 17 (I was 14). I never showed anyone the anger filled letters and poems I wrote, but it felt good to externalise the anger. I drifted away from writing and persued other ways to be creative until my husband had a serious health scare two years ago. I couldn't sleep so I sat alone tapping away on my keyboard through the night until I had written forty thousand words of a novel. The novel remains unfinished and I haven't read it since that time, but it got me through one of the most stressful times of my life.

    I wish you a wonderful Christmas and much success in 2012.

  14. My mother used to make up stories for me about Timmy and Tommy, little mice, who had all sorts of adventures, including going to Wembley for the FA Cup! Later on when I got a portable typewriter, she borrowed it and typed them out with two fingers, so for me the world of writing and imagination was always there. My mother died nearly twenty years ago, but I think she would have approved of my writing and have been proud to read my book.
    Have a great blog-free Christmas, Anita!

  15. My lovely friend I've only just read your blog from Friday and I am in tears it was so moving. I think your Mum is with you every step of the way on your writing journey and she would be so proud of her talented and beautiful daughter. You are bursting with ideas Neets and I just know there are a string of books up your sleeve. Much love x

  16. This is such an honest and poignant post, Anita. I can relate to much of what you are saying. My father died in 1992 from a heart attack and it was a shock that changed my life forever. After this, writing became a very important part of my life. You have exactly the right attitude and your determination shines through. I'm sure you will go far. Don't stay away from twitter too long. I'll miss your tweets. Hope you have a good Christmas. Sending you a big hug my lovely twitter friend. X

  17. My reasons for writing are very similar to yours. It is, as you say, most therapeutic. And I empathise with your feelings about starting a second book. It's not an easy job to do. Good luck with it and hope you have a great Christmas break.

  18. hugs, Anita.

    Wishing you all the best for 2012!


  19. Beautiful blog Anita. I agree with you, writing is therapeutic. I lost my lovely Mum in 2005, she was 73 and my best friend. We were living in France at the time and I gave it all up, to come home and keep an eye on my Dad. I have relived my life in France since then, through the book I have just written. Without the book I don't know how I would have coped. I think you are a really talented writer Anita and hope to see 'The Grandson' in my local bookshop soon!

    1. Hi Heather, thanks so much for your lovely comment. I'm sorry to hear about the loss of your mum. Best of luck with your book.