Why I Write

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This holiday week, the Inkitt bloggers will be reflecting on why they write. Read on for insight into their personal journeys…

Everyone has their own reasons for writing. Everyone has a story because that’s who we are, we are storytellers. We are the observers, the processors, the sensitive ones, the ones who need to have a voice without speaking. It’s a strange way to spend your time–staring at a blank page that slowly becomes populated with your own words. It can also be downright lonely and frustrating, with no one to blame but yourself. But yet, we writers keep coming back to the craft. We keep pouring out those characters both alphabetical, fictional, and otherwise. So, why do we do it? It’s certainly not because it’s financially rewarding. So why bother?

For me, writing is therapy.

Being a volatile child, I had trouble sorting out my thoughts and emotions. I was very reactionary and impulsively explosive. My younger self had trouble processing the world and I frequently felt overstimulated and powerless. I needed to express how I felt with more than my fits of rage, but I couldn’t figure out how to say what I needed to say. I was angry and didn’t feel that the people around me heard my voice.

That’s when I started journaling.

Journaling allowed me to have the courageous conversations that would never, or could never, happen. On the page, I could scream at someone. I could get all that I needed to say out of my body without being interrupted or told that my feelings were invalid. Then I would slam the journal shut and read it another day. In the calmness after my storms, I observed myself and saw what was happening to me. Often, I would journal more about the incident–this time with more clarity.

Through my writing, I validated myself.

I never thought of myself as a writer, I was always an artist and still am. I paint, draw, and sculpt. I have a B.F.A. in Graphic Design and a Masters of Arts in Teaching K-12 visual arts. My days are spent in my art classroom, teaching young girls how to see and interpret the visual world.

Writing was never something I thought about pursuing.

In my sixth year of teaching junior high art, I took a Writing-Across-the-Curriculum class. The beginning of every class required journaling. I slipped into my seat after a day spent with rowdy thirteen-year-olds, surrounded by my equally weary colleagues. My head would swim with the events of the day and I would write furiously. After fifteen minutes, some of us would share what we wrote. I always offered my passages but soon discovered that no one liked sharing after me.

You should write, said the English teachers. Nah, I said, I can’t type.

Soon after that class, I achieved my National Board Certification. I spent fourteen hours a day for nine months teaching art and then writing about teaching art. I learned how to make my words succinct. I learned about sentence structure and overall grammar. But most importantly, I learned to type and type fast. Once that year ended, and I gained a few hours back in my day, I realized that I wanted to keep writing. However, I wanted to write something that my eighth-grade boys would read.

Enter the Zombie Apocalypse.

I noticed that all the girls carried around books like Twilight (and here, I date myself), but the boys did not have books tucked under their arms.

There is nothing we want to read.

What if I wrote for you? What would you want to read?

Zombies. In our school. At night. We could use stuff around the building to defend ourselves.

I got to work. I made a character form that students could fill out to be included in the book. I wrote and wrote and wrote. I had an infant at the time. I wrote in my car while waiting in parking lots for my parents/childcare to return her to me after work. I woke up at 5 AM to write before school. I wrote after putting my daughter down for the night. When my first novel was finished, I researched agents and sent it off with the perfect query letter. I received excellent feedback.

Zombie novels are not popular. You have a great voice, keep writing.

So I did. I kept writing. Our living situation changed and I stopped teaching for six years. By day, I was a mom and a writer. I wrote a trilogy about homicidal mermaids living in the historic seaside village where I live today. It was one hell of a ride. I learned so much about myself, about being a writer. I now have great friends who are writers. I also learned that I missed teaching and, last year, I returned to the classroom. I now teach K-5 art at an all-girls Quaker school.

I’m not writing much fiction these days. I work on my lesson plans and do blog posts to feed my writing hunger. After the trilogy, I felt burned out. But stories still filter through my head. They’re whispering to me as I brush my teeth, while I’m driving, or when I walk alone. There might be more stories in me to tell. I don’t think I’m done–not just yet …

Do you have a topic you would like us to cover? Let us know about your suggestion. 


About Author

Heather Rigney is a fiction writer, blogger, journalist, and art teacher based in Rhode Island. Author of The Merrow Trilogy--a dark, historical fantasy novel that deals with homicidal mermaids, the colonial suppression of women, and a present-day alcoholic funeral director trying to make sense of it all. Her writing has been featured in Motif Magazine and Stone Crowns Magazine. By day she teaches art at an all-girls Quaker school and at night she tries to be creative while avoiding too many sweets. You can read more about Ms. Rigney on her website: www.heatherrigney.com

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