By Danielle E. Shipley
“Why do I write?”
It’s a self-directed question I’ve seen a lot, in the writing community. Perhaps there’s a collective sense of needing to justify all the time we spend staring at blank pages, out of windows, and deep into our imaginations. For us indie writers, in particular, we can’t claim it’s for the money. Even for the big name bestsellers whose hard work and good luck combine into fame and fandoms, there has to be a special something that sustains them on the journey.
Why seek out ideas, wrestle them into the shape of a story, work and rework the sentences until they come close to saying what we’re trying to, and then hold out the labor of our hearts for an audience to embrace or reject or – worst of all – never notice?
Why in the worlds do we put ourselves through it?
Obviously, I can’t speak for every writer. But for me, it’s never really been a matter of why. It’s a matter of who.
The question: “Who am I?”
The answer (with a wink to any “Les Mis” musical fans in the house): “Pretty much everyone but Jean Valjean.”
I write because I am Annabelle Iole Gray – no surprise there, given that I’ve made no secret of the autobiographical nature of my first published novel, “Inspired”. Annabelle’s just a girl who loves books. Those written by others, she reads. Those made of empty, ruled pages, she fills with her thoughts. And when a number of fictional people come to her with stories that their unexpectedly deceased first author left untold? Those are the books that – first for her own amusement, and ultimately for their sakes – she learns to write.
I write because I am also Lucianíel, Annabelle’s muse. Unlike his author, Luc never doubts where his passions lie. His body may be made of light, but his soul is made of inspiration. He lives for sparking creation, and for refining creation into art. The product is bliss, but the process is king. His work is never finished, for every ending paves the way to new beginnings.
I write because I am the Merry Men – the Lady Marion, Little John, and Will Scarlet that make up much of my “Outlaws of Avalon”. Centuries before they woke up in an immortal Renaissance Faire – conjured to the Faerie-isle-in-disguise by Merlin through the power of King Arthur’s sword Excalibur – these three were united in Sherwood Forest by one love in common: Robin Hood. Marion saw his courageous compassion, and wanted to be with him. Little John saw his honorable leadership, and wanted to follow him. Will Scarlet saw his fun-filled rebellion, and wanted to be him. With a hero like that at large, how could they (and I) not want a part in his adventures?
I write because I am also Robin Hood’s minstrel, Allyn-a-Dale. Originating in “The Wilderhark Tales”, Allyn was raised in and by the stuff of fairy stories, but any happy ending of his own felt out of reach. His was a heart full of sorrow and song, and had no one with whom to share it. …Until he found his family among legends of old. While the world at large may believe the celebrated outlaw band to be nothing more than a fun bit of fiction, to Allyn (and me), they are so much more. They are a brotherhood. They are a home.
I write because I am Xtra-Medium – more commonly known as Nicky, a powerless weirdo among a moon full of superhumans in “So Super Dead”. Nicky is sixteen years old before s/he starts to come into himmer’s special ability: S/he can talk to the dead! It’s not a gift that everyone sees as particularly useful to an up-and-coming team of heroes, looking for a world to save. But with or without the validation of others, Nicky believes in the value of having a way with words, and of using them on the behalf of souls who can’t otherwise make themselves heard.
I write because I am also Thackeray Kyle, the Vampire Hunter. In contrast to Nicky, people on two planets think of Thackeray Kyle as some sort of glamorous badass. I mean, a guy who takes out scary monsters for reality TV? How cool does that sound! What the world doesn’t know is his truth on the down-low: The man feels utterly dead inside. And although Thackeray’s demons may be a little more macabre than the depression that has been known to knock me numb, we both know what it means to keep dragging ourselves up and fighting for our survival. After all, we wouldn’t want to let down our fans.
I write because I am Molly Worth, from “Deathsong of the Deep”. Everyone in her dockside town hears sailors sing of seafaring life. Only Molly hears, in addition, a mythic creature’s haunting melody of seafaring death. Both tug mightily at her imagination, so when she sees a chance to explore past her horizon, she makes the leap. The voyage comes with its terrors and heartaches, and with just as much joy and wonder, every loss and gain she tallies making Molly into more than she ever once dreamed she could be.
I write, in short, because I am Danielle E. Shipley – a universe unto myself, with still more universes to explore – and to share my selves in stories is the only way you (or I) can begin to know me.
* For more on this author and her work, visit Deshipley.com