Just Keep Writing

Photo by Lord Marmalade

There’s a reason I keep writing even though monetary success hasn’t found me, yet. Words strung together in books have always given me the ability to dream of bigger things and even the courage to go out and try.

I’ve been blessed to have three books published and each time there have been plenty of readers who have said that I helped them let go of what no longer worked for them and dream, too.

We talk a lot about our purpose for being here in this life and I’ve come to believe mine is to be of service in whatever ways I can figure out. So far, translating the common man’s dream into something worthwhile, something doable and something that’s even full of a little God-magic has been mine. Not the big, change a country, build a corporation dreams. The smaller moments that stay in your heart.

It’s a message that I took in from the very start.

My first experiences with books and stories are three of the strongest memories I have as a child. The very first one was the first time I walked into a library, the Philadelphia library and found out they let you check out as many as you could carry, my father’s rule, read them all and bring them back for more. My world opened up that day and I found out there were a thousand possibilities when it came to living a life.

The second has to be explained a little bit. We were so poor when I was growing up that my father talked a friend of his who worked at a local bank to lend him a hundred dollars so he could buy us a used black and white television. We screamed with delight when Dad brought the set home. So, when a Reading is Fundamental bookmobile came through our neighborhood and the driver told us we could pick out any new book and keep it, I felt like a little big of magic had settled over us that day. I took my time and tried to choose a book that I could read over and over again. I still have it and read it to my son when he was little.

The third memory is my brother, Jeff and myself when we taught ourselves to read, Horton Hears a Who by Dr. Seuss. We had the book read to us so many times we knew what part of the story went with what pictures and on our own figured out which words went with the sounds. That’s when I understood a secret about books. They have their own power to transform. They don’t know if you’re rich or poor, beautiful or an ugly duckling, a wealthy doctor or a poor cabdriver, and they don’t care. A book will take you on an adventure whenever you’re ready, regardless of how you see yourself and as a bonus may even change the definitions.

Books made it possible for me to envision a way to become someone I couldn’t even define yet. They gave me the faith to set out when I couldn’t find it anywhere else and the hope that somehow things would all work out.

I’ve seen it happen just often enough. A lost human being feels like they’re the only one who has ever felt this much pain. They don’t know how to reach out for help but then, inside of a story some writer concocted out of whole cloth they see every emotion or secret or hope-for happy ending that they’ve kept bottled up inside, acted out, and they start to believe – maybe there’s more to this world.

That’s why I keep writing and that’s why I’m so grateful for every writer out there who struggles to tell a good tale. I’m one of your biggest fans, whoever you are, so keep writing. We need every single exciting, cliffhanger, romance, potboiler, science fiction, political thriller that we can get our hands on because even now, sometimes my dreams need a kick start. So please, just keep writing.

33 thoughts on “Just Keep Writing

  1. You sum up beautifully what many of us feel who have a love of books, stories and the written word. Many of us write not because we’ll become rich and famous (good luck on that), but because we have a story to tell and we have a need to share that unique vision with the world. BTW I’m a Chicagoan too. 😉

    • Hi Kim – stay warm in all this snow! I keep it even simpler and these days try to write to be of service and even have a little fun. It’s the oddest moments when something I dashed off or didn’t really connect to myself that someone tells me meant so much to them.

  2. “A lost human being feels like they’re the only one who has ever felt this much pain. They don’t know how to reach out for help but then, inside of a story some writer concocted out of whole cloth they see every emotion or secret or hope-for happy ending that they’ve kept bottled up inside, acted out, and they start to believe – maybe there’s more to this world.”

    I absolutely LOVE this picture, Martha! You capture the vision of many Christian authors here, who write to guide these lost sheep to the Good Shepherd. This quote is a keeper! Keep writing!!!

    • Thank you Karen! A good portion of my faith and the nearness I now feel came through writing a story and then seeing how it transformed others. The readers ended up giving me courage.

  3. Thanks for sharing such beautiful words with us, Martha! Just yesterday I was trying to get to the root of why I must write, but my reasons weren’t nearly as profound or moving:) Continued success to you!

  4. Martha, you and I have such similar backgrounds. We were quite poor and lived in a trailer most of my childhood. I, too, remember when dad brought home our first black and white TV. It was an event when we watched the movie King Kong for the first time…the original. The Korean War raged, and I was sent outdoors when those news segments played. We moved a lot, so the first thing we would do in a new town is to drop by the library and stock up on books. If there was a bookmobile that stopped nearby, we would take advantage of it instead of hopping on a bus to the library.

    My mother grew up during the Depression and only had a sixth-grade education, so she learned to read better through our books. It’s because of her and our love for reading that my sister and I went to college. We were the first ones in our extended family to graduate with our B.A.s, and I eventually (at the age of 60) received my Master’s Degree in English. Books transported me to other places and helped me dream of a better life. Thanks for helping me to remember why I love reading so much. It brought back such wonderful memories of my mom.

    • Barbara, what wonderful memories. Thank you so much for sharing! Recently, I went out without my license but had my library card (of course I did) and had to use it to get into a museum. The guy understood completely.

  5. Martha,

    Thank you for the reminder of the magic and the blessings of books. It brought back my own childhood memories of reading the Black Stallion for the first of many times and being transported to new worlds.

    • Even now a good book can get me to see things differently and reorder all of my ‘truths’ and new opportunities appear out of nowhere.

  6. Martha, Your words revived memories of some of my happy reading days as a child. My favorite school days coincided with the arrival of our Scholastic Book orders. I can still remember my excitement as our teacher began passing out our books. Although I grew up in a family of eight children, Dad and Mom always had money for our book orders. Dad even kept a copy of the Great Books in our home! The lower branches of a big silver-leafed maple in our front yard found me reading on many a summer day. Thanks for the memories, Martha.

    • We had an old chair in the living room that I’d drape myself over and read and read. My brother and my friends and I would sometimes act out the plots. I was a giant word-nerd from the start.

  7. Martha, you post gave me chills. The good kind! It both transported me back to my childhood, my favorite book, and also gave me inspiration to get back to WIP. Thanks!

  8. Love your post! I want to know what book you picked and later read to your son.

    Books saved my life. My home was filled with abuse and I escaped to books for reprieve. We had a bookmobile come near our house each summer and I got to pick books to read. A neighbor woman had her own library and graciously loaned her classics to me, great stories like “The Count of Monte Cristo.” Without books I would have been lost.

    My hope is to finish writing my memoir to help others who have been hurt in the past to find freedom and joy. Books heal.

    • The book was Red Fish, Blue Fish and to this day when I see a hat I like I tell them, I like your hat and think of that book. You’ll have to read it to get the running joke. 🙂 I agree with you – books do amazing things. That’s why the printing press was named the most important invention and event of the last millennium. Words give us freedom in so many different ways.

  9. Though I have numerous half siblings, I was an only child at home until I was eleven. We lived rurally and had an atenna that if you swung just right and there was snow on the mountain, we could get three channels. Otherwise, it was snow w/ noise. I spent so much time with my nose in a book. Those books were my playmates, my escape to another world, my company. And where the dream was birthed to be an author myself.
    Thanks!

    • Thank you, Melissa. What a wonderful blessing to take the gifts we’re given and go and share.

  10. Martha, thank you for such an encouraging post. Sometimes, I think we need to hear this even more *after* publication than before. It’s so easy to get caught in all the business, the exhausting whirl, the never-ending responsibilities. But at the bottom of it all is the reader who may feel less alone, who may feel as if someone understands, or who may just have an unbearable burden lightened by a few hours of escape.

    • You’re right Rosslyn. Our purpose is to be of service and for writers that can mean sharing our story. Thanks!

  11. Martha, thank you! I was partial to fantasy as a child, because it often provided a way for the powerless to become powerful. So often, children feel powerless to change their circumstances, and as you so eloquently point out, books are the antidote.

    • Rosslyn – I still love fantasy now. Maybe the economy has worn me down. 🙂 But there’s something about the good coming out on top that never gets old.

  12. I, too, have happy memories of visiting the library and meeting the book mobile. I think that the same is true for my kids, but when I have grandchildren, I suspect their childhood “reading” memories will have something to do with the Internet and e-readers — or just maybe it will be going to grandpa’s house and having him read “old-fashioned books” to them!

    • I think it’s important to have reading memories – sure hope print books don’t go out of business, e-readers are not as cuddly as books when reading to children, IMHO.

    • Peter – what a lovely image. Books that children can hold and turn the pages and know that this was yours at their age will still mean something. Thanks!

  13. Thanks so much, for posting this, Martha, it was a real encouragement to me!! Yes, I remember so vividly reading and rereading the few books in my home and the best gift I and my siblings ever received (in my estimation) were three books my father sent us from California (we lived in Maine): Little Women, Little Men, and Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates.

    I’ve dreamed of being an author from an early age. Although I’ve co-authored a local history and had a children’s book published, I’ve definitely needed the encouragement to keep writing, as I struggle through completing the story of my childhood which I believe would be a real encouragement to others.

    Thanks, again!!

    • Flora – consider trying a few long features first in a local publication. That will give you a voice, help a few people and help you to shape the story. Loved Hans Brinker as a child!

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