Thursday, August 24, 2006

Why we write

This is from an entry by horror writer Richard Steinberg at Storytellers Unplugged, Aug. 18, 2006. He tells the story of his mother, who died one year ago on that date, and how she encouraged his writing, even in his darkest hours; and how he encouraged her to begin writing late in life. It's a wonderful, heart-rending story of love and loss. And here is what he says about what he did late the night she died, and why:

... And then, without knowing why, I went into my office and continued working on what would become my nineteenth novel.

These are the first words I wrote that night:

"Some looked for proof of God in a cloudless starry night. Others in the flashing eyes of small children at play. Maybe a majority of people in the world saw God in the fact that, despite everything the world could and did throw at them, they still woke up in the morning and carried on despite the odds."

Because, in the end, I am a writer. A fictioneer prowling the high seas of apostasy, doubt, and inhumanity. A night rider marauding through the literary stacks shouting in a rage, whispering in a prayer, using all the tools, all the technique, whatever talents or natural instincts I possess to tell you a tale that will make your world a little, well . . . if nothing else, a little different than it was.

And I am all of that, because of a potentially brilliant writer who died a year ago today . . . my mother, Gloria Steinberg.

I apologize if I've gone on too long here, and if this essay isn't exactly what you're used to here at STORYTELLERS. I hope that some of you can find at least some lessons within it to help you as a writer.

Having lived it, I can promise you that there were lessons within it that I learned.

"There are some things which cannot be learned quickly, and time, which is all we have, must be paid heavily for their acquiring. They are simple things, and because it takes a man's life to know them, the little new that each man gets from life is very costly and the only heritage he has to leave," Ernest Hemingway

And so I share with you all, gentle readers, the rich heritage my mother left to me:

There's nothing I can add to that, except Amen.

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