Why I Write…Again

I’ve talked about it before, and I will probably talk about it again.  Most every writer is asked the question.  And the answer, for many of us, changes as we grow and our writing evolves.  In this blog, I have covered more times than I can count at the moment the reasons that I write.  Recently, though, I found myself face-to-face with one of the reasons I started writing in the first place.  I immediately took a picture of it.

DSCF4843_thumb.jpg My husband and I took our sons on a vacation “Up North,” to Grand Traverse County, Michigan.  My mother’s family has roots in the area, and a cousin now owns property in the small village outside of Traverse City where my great-aunt raised her family.  We were able to stay there.  My oldest son, who is 12 now, helped me tour the property on a golf cart—he drove while I took pictures.  At one point as we drove along the dirt road, I just started to giggle.  The road that stretched in front of me reminded me of my favorite book, Anne of Green Gables.  All I could think as we bounced along that road was, “If this was a horse-drawn buggy, this would be just like what Anne Shirley saw on her first approach to Green Gables from the train station.”  It took me back to the first time I read that book and the reasons I started to write.

I began writing because of Anne’s wonder.  From the moment I first read that book, I was entranced with the way L.M. Montgomery captured Anne’s view of the world, her wondered at experiencing all new things.  Her Anne books are my biggest inspiration.  I can’t imagine that my writing is nearly as good as Ms. Montgomery’s work.  But my goal, especially when I am writing for young adults, is to create characters as memorable as Anne Shirley and Diana Barry, and to craft a love story as touching and enduring as that of Anne and Gilbert Blythe.

Though Anne’s stories take place on Prince Edward Island, Canada, and this photograph was taken in Grawn, Michigan, it reminds me of those feelings I had when I started to write stories.  I plan to enlarge this picture and have it framed to hang above my writing desk.    This is why I write.  Whenever I need extra inspiration, looking at this should help me to find it.

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The Writing Question

Why do you write?

If you are a writer, you will be asked that question at least once in your life.  I can’t count the number of times I’ve been asked it.  And it seems like every time I hear the question, the answer changes.  Oh, at the heart of it, the answer is the same—I write because I cannot NOT write.  Writing is as much a part of my daily life as breathing.  While the lack of writing may not bring the same physical problems that a lack of oxygen would bring, when I don’t write I do suffer a sort of emotional suffocation.

One reason I write, one that is playing heavy on my mind this morning, is because it’s a great escape from my life.  Writing allows me to explore how my life could have been had I made different choices.  Oh, I am not talking about the “little” choices, like what if I’d picked a different colored blouse or if I had picked something different for breakfast.  I mean the bigger choices in life, like what if I had sat in a different seat in my 10th grade history class or what if I had gone to my senior prom with a group of friends instead of with the date I had.  Those may not seem like big, life altering decisions to you, but to me they were.

The girl I sat next to in 10th grade history?  She is still my best friend today.

The boy I went to my senior prom with?  He and I have been married for 13 years.

If I’d made a different choice about either of those things, my life would be totally different today.

For the most, I am happy with my life.  I can’t say completely happy, because there are things in my life that I am not happy with.  Mostly, those things are health-related.  I wonder sometimes how things would be different if I had made different choices.

This morning, I’d like a little escape from my life.  My kids are off school this morning, and they are especially loud.  I don’t know exactly why.  Could be just because they are boys….

Today, I write because I need a break.  I need to get away from the loudness, the madness that comes from having four (yes, four–they had a friend stay over last night; could that be part of the reason for the loudness??) boys at home today.  Only I don’t know that I will get the quiet to be able to do that.  After all, it’s taken me nearly two hours just to write this simple post.

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I am The Writer, I Speak for the Innocence

While trying to study this morning, I was distracted by the Today’s Professional segment on The Today Show.  I don’t often pay much attention to that segment, just because one of the “professionals” really gets on my nerves.  But this morning, the topic of discussion intrigued me.  As a writer, publishing trends catch my attention.  This trend was about teen novels, and as my sons are rapidly approaching their teen years, I was very interested in what might be discussed.

What I heard left me feeling outraged.  I swear, I’d like to get my hands on someone (that “professional” that annoys me, perhaps?) and shake some sense into them.

How can someone possibly think that writing Fifty Shades of Grey-style novels for teens is actually a good idea?

I have never read the Fifty Shades trilogy and I don’t intend to.  From what I have heard from a variety of sources, the book is, at best, “soft” porn.  There is a strong focus on the sexual relationship between the two main characters, including some rather detailed descriptions of their actions.  I don’t know, really, how the term “soft” applies; porn is porn.  Call it what it is.

There is little doubt in my mind that this series of novels I getting into the hands of teen girls.  They see their mother reading it, some probably even see Mom trying to hide that she is reading, and can’t wait to read it themselves.  Thinking it will make them look “cool” to their friends, they probably slip it off the bookshelf as soon as Mom has finished reading it and sneak the books to school.

And now some brilliant mind in the publishing industry has decided that making similar books for teens, apparently books in a new sub-genre called “steamies,” is a good, money making idea.  So how did that conversation go?  “Let’s exploit young girls, take away the last vestige of innocence they have, and give them explicit tales of teenage lust that will completely distort their idea of what love is about. It’s brilliant!”

It’s something, all right.  Not sure that brilliant is the right word for it, though.

As parents today, we need to reach our kids to value themselves enough to just enjoy the gentle, tenderness of first love as it unfolds and to respect themselves and the one they love enough to not give into the lust just because peers and society say it is the cool thing to do.  Not an easy thing to do with the pressures of society and that entertainment choices that are readily available to teens today.  I know a lot of parents who have worked hard to do that, and still have kids who focus on the lust rather than the love.

So maybe it is time for the publishing industry to help out.

No, I don’t think this one blog post—or even a series of blog posts like it—will stop publishers from producing steamies.  Publishers are in it for the money; they don’t often care who might be harmed by the books they publish so long as the sales improve their bottom line.

But this is one author who DOES care.  I am not willing to compromise my children or their friends in order to make a little money.  Yes, it is hard to make  a steady income with writing.  But it is not worth it to me to make money at this career if it means causing harm to someone else.  And porn hurts, in a lot of ways.  Not that I have the time go into all of those ways today!  But it does hurt, and I refuse to be a part of it.

Someone recently asked me to define what being a successful writer means to me.  Success to me is touching one life with my words, making a positive impact on someone with the story that God gave me to write.  Writing a story that emphasizes sex is not something that I can see having a positive impact on anything.  I won’t do it.  No matter how much money a publisher offers me to do it.

I wish other writers would stand up with me on this.  I’d love to somehow build a network of writers who are committed to not only getting young men and women to read, but to giving them books worth reading.  But even if I have to stand alone in this, that is what I will do.

Welcome Donna McDine


Author Donna McDine


Children’s author Donna McDine is familiar with the “downside” of being a work-from-home writer.  Today, she takes a few moments to share her thoughts on this unique employment environment.  Be sure to check back tomorrow for a review of her latest book The Golden Pathway.  And there just might be something special in store for that as well….





Donna M. McDine


You dream of the days of no commute to a 9-5 job and you finally give your writing aspirations the chance that they deserve.  You have stocked your office or any small writing space that you designate in your home with all the essentials; computer, paper, pens, pencils, books and research resources, etc.  However, the responsibilities of mother seem to intrude every moment of the day. 

Now that you are home, everyone thinks that you are accessible all day long.  The kids feel that since you are home that you aren’t “really working”.  You’re not sure when it happened, but responsibilities that were normally delegated, somehow have become all your responsibility.  A writer’s life can easily become frustrated when the creative juices are without fail interrupted by the most mundane questions or needs.  You know how that goes.  Cleaning the sticky keyboard.  Mom where are my soccer cleats? What is there to eat?  Can you put the movie in for me?  The list is endless.  When did my family become so helpless? 

We all love our families, but how does one carve out that special and much desired writing time without the feeling of neglect on the family?  It is important to reset boundaries as quickly as they disappear.  Let your family know that writing is indeed work, but also a passion that you want to achieve.  Teach your children the importance of uninterrupted writing time and that they will get your undivided attention once your writing session is completed.  Hopefully they will come to understand that what is important to you should be respected.  Just as you respect what is important to them.

            Although there will be times and sometimes it will feel like many, where interruptions are a necessity.  Such as, when the school nurse calls to say that you need to pick up your child that has a fever.  Like any mother, we quickly grab our car keys and head to the school.  If you attempt to balance your writing and the care of your sick little one it will tend to leave you both feeling frustrated and neglected.  At this point, you are much better accepting the fact that your child needs you and that your writing can wait for another time.  Even if that deadline is on the horizon, you will not do your best work, just leave it. 

            Grab any time thrown your way, especially when the little ones are asleep.  When the house and telephone are quiet it tends to be a great time for creativity.  These little pockets of time may not feel like much, but the time over a week to a month will accumulate and you can get quite a bit accomplished.

            Keep a handy pocket notebook with you at all times, you never know when your next inspiration will come to mind.  It could happen anywhere, such as that crowded doctors office you just brought your sick child to.  Like anything in this life, this too shall pass, but we hope not too fast, since they do grow up quickly.

Donna McDine is an award-winning children’s author, Honorable Mention in the 77th and two Honorable Mentions in the 78th Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competitions. Donna’s stories and features have been published in many print and online publications and her interest in American History resulted in writing and publishing The Golden Pathway. Her second book, The Hockey Agony is under contract and will be published by Guardian Angel Publishing. She writes, moms and is the Publicist Intern for The National Writing for Children Center and Children’s Writers’ Coaching Club from her home in the historical hamlet Tappan, NY. McDine is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and Musing Our Children.