Why do I write? by Arwen Spicer

Please welcome Arwen Spicer, the next in the series of guest blog posts that answer the question: Why do you write?


Why Do I Write?
by Arwen Spicer


I write for the same reason people fall in love: because the soul needs to communicate with others. And as with love, writing is not a one-way street. Every writer is a reader, and every reader is a participant in writing. We create based on what we’ve learned from others, and when we read, we translate the words (or video images, music, etc.) through the contexts of our minds to produce our own version of the story. I am happy that we live in an age in which the basic fact that all art is a collaboration is becoming accepted once again and the myth of the solitary author producing an artifact called “original” work is slowly melting back into deeper sea of human storytelling.

In other words, I love fan fiction! I mean this sincerely and seriously. Fan fiction usually refers to an unauthorized derivative work set in the universe of a preexisting story: ex. a Star Wars character study. A fan fiction writer is someone so emotionally drawn to a story that her role as author of her own reading experience spills over into literal writing. The characters and situations she has fleshed out in her head become vignettes, side-stories, conversations, what-ifs, and, yes, sometimes sex scenes expanding and extrapolating on the story that has sparked her mind.

I write because some beautiful ideas spark my mind, just as the right person can do so, in the right place, at the right time. I write original science fiction, and I proudly write fan fic, too. Sometimes I write original things that feel mostly pulled out of my own head. I’ve been creating the Continuation Universe page since I was eleven, which, for those keeping track, is almost thirty years. It’s my own creation as far as copyright law goes, never mind that a lot of the planets were initially named after planets in Star Wars and Star Trek, when I was twelve of thirteen. But those derivative roots are there. My “original” universe has never been entirely my own.

And consistently the pieces of my original writing that please me most as a reader are those that are fundamentally originalized fan fiction, transpositions and mental mashups of characters and situations I loved from other stories, turned over many years into my own. Bits of Tolkien, Star Wars, Blake’s 7, the Mahabharata, and Lexx to name a few—they warp across the years into the fabric of my universe. There is Star Trek in The Hour before Morning; there is Les Misérables far, far back in the high school beginnings of Perdita.

I work very hard on my “original” fiction. I do all can to make it as polished and profound as possible. I devote a lot less to my explicit fan fiction: it’s a lighter load; it’s more fun. By definition, it has to be a hobby: by law, I’m not allowed make money from it. It is, therefore, pure writing for the joy. There’s no other reason. But when I go back to read my own work, I very nearly always go back to Archive of Our Own. There’s a handful of my fics I deeply love as a reader. I read them like I’d read any old favorite story: because they move me. They fill me. I can’t feel that way about my original fiction, any more than I could fall in love with myself.

The original stuff, that’s a gift to others. And when a reader refers to my first novel as “my beloved Perdita” or tells me The Hour before Morning keeps looping around in his head, playing against observations he’s making about our real world and politics, then I know I’ve fulfilled my part in giving stories to others.

Do you remember Cloud Atlas? It’s a story about how people’s individual actions, for good or ill, across the centuries, ripple down through the course of history and the lives of others in ways they’d never guess in people they’ll never meet. Art is perhaps our chief medium for that strange and intimate relationship in which people who never know each other, who may not speak the same language, who may not even be alive at the same time, can touch hearts with a love as life-transforming in its way as any personal relationship. It is a supremely detached and generous love we give and receive in this world.

In the Japanese light novel series, Mirage of Blaze, a character remarks that souls can reproduce, just like bodies, and that these offspring of the soul can change the world. “History was created in this way,” he says. Our thoughts interpenetrate each other. We learn and we grow, and the world evolves. I write because I want to participate in the life of this world.

Arwen Spicer is a science fiction writer and indie filmmaker raised in the San Fransciso Bay Area, and Northern California will hold her heart forever, even if it dries up into a desert.  Her greatest literary influences are (in no particular order) Le Guin, Dostoevsky, and Tolkien, to whom, of course, she owes her name. She is the author of The Hour before Morning, “A carefully paced, rewarding sci-fi debut” (Kirkus). 
To learn more about Arwen and her work, visit her website: http://www.arwenspicer.com/

I Write Because… by Ali McCart

Please welcome the next guest blogger to Writing Through the Body™, Ali McCart.

Ali PNBA 2014

I Write Because…
by Ali McCart

I noticed my narrator when I was six years old.

She skips through the pasture in the pink dress her mother made her wear, it said. Now the ruffles are smeared with mud and her shiny black shoes are scuffed, something she’ll be yelled at for later, but she doesn’t care. She’s too focused on her prize—a squirming garter snake. At least, she thinks it’s a garter snake. She grips its neck even tighter,  just in case, until she sees its tongue flicker nervously and then hang limp. Oh no, don’t kill it, she tells herself.

I spent my days reading, imagining what I might write someday, and exploring the wonders of our pasture, neighborhood, nearby gravel pit, and the area’s deep ravines, much as the characters in my favorite books did.

When I was eight, my mother was well aware of my love of the written word, so she gave me a journal.

“It has a lock on it,” she pointed out.

I eyed the pink cover with cartoon unicorns—so girly, much like that ruffled dress she used to make me wear.

“I was always too afraid someone would find my diary when I was a little girl,” she said, eyes downcast. “So I never wrote. But yours has a lock, so whatever you write will be safe.” She smiled and smoothed my hair, clearly proud she was taking steps to raise a daughter with a voice.

I tested the lock to see how safe it really was. Although my mother had a strong respect for privacy, my father and brother did not. Could I really transcribe my narrator’s monologue? Could I honestly write about the guilt I felt in letting my frog die, how I seemed to see the world differently than my classmates did, and the books I read that were meant for older kids? What about the willpower it took not to flinch around my dad when he was drunk? The lock survived my Reeboks, but my church shoe heel popped it with ease. My narrator ran a commentary as I shoved the pink book, metal lock flopping uselessly, into my underwear drawer and ran outside.

In high school, I dabbled in writing fiction, imagining no one would see through the thin curtain of Kali’s resentment at her father’s controlling demeanor. By the end of the first draft, though, I knew better. I walked the pages to the trailer park dumpster.

But my narrator never quieted.

She jerks at the rose stem, desperate to pocket the bloom before campus safety sees her damaging the rose bush. She’d be fined for sure. Later, in her dorm room, she’ll press the petals in her psychology book as she writes to her brother. She’ll address the envelope to the Idaho State Correctional Facility and then drop in the dried petals—the only Christmas gift she can afford that the guards wouldn’t take away.

I spent my twenties listening to my narrator but channeling my writing urges into my editing career. The year I turned thirty, though, my mother paused from making Thanksgiving dinner to ask me, “Why don’t you ever write? You’ve always had a knack for it.”

I didn’t know anymore. I no longer felt that I might not be safe, and my narrator was stronger than ever. In fact, in that moment, it documented my embarrassed shrug and my mental vow to spend my thirties and beyond putting my own words onto the page.

I write because I will no longer censor my narrator.




Ali McCart is the executive editor at Indigo Editing & Publications (www.indigoediting.com), where she edits nonfiction and runs the Sledgehammer 36-Hour Writing Contest (www.sledgehammercontest.com). Her writing has been published in Hippocampus Magazine and featured at DimeStories Orange County. A slightly modified version of this essay earned her a spot as a finalist for the 2015 Victoria A. Hudson Emerging Writer Prize. Ali writes from sunny Southern California while daydreaming of rainy Portland, Oregon.

When Inspiration Strikes by Jeannette Zeuner

Please welcome Jeannette Zeuner, the second in a series of guest bloggers and writers who have been gracious enough to respond to my prompt: Why I Write


When Inspiration Strikes
Jeannette Zeuner


When inspiration strikes, I drop everything. I cancel dates with friends, I won`t answer the phone and I usually lock out the rest of the world completely. It’s just me and my thoughts. I can watch how sentences form, how paragraphs craft themselves on the page in front of me. I let the words flow out of my mind, play around with them, tasting the sound before they land softly on the paper. They are still a little shy, not quite knowing what powerful force they obtain together. Written words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hurt, to inspire, to motivate, to elevate… to affect one’s life immensly.

Words are tools of imagery in motion. – Sam Shepard

Writing is like capturing thoughts in amber. Writing is taking your thinking muscles to the gym. Writing is creating something original from your own thoughts. Writing is transforming your thoughts into matter and putting them on the screen. There is always something special about putting words to paper. Your written words can last long past your own life…

I write books and blogs because I would like to give something back. It is easier for me to write than to speak. Writing is my way of processing knowledge and passing it on. It makes me happy when a reader writes to me saying that my book inspired him to do something or to go a step forward in life.

Words don’t unfold their power until someone reads them, until someone becomes attracted to them. Why are you reading this right now?

Let me share my little philosophy on books with you:

I believe in books, and always have.

How can you choose a good book nowadays, with the millions out there competing for the attention of a reader? How can you find a good book, one that makes you feel understood at that moment? A book that is just what you needed to read at that point?

Be it a guide to a specific topic, a romance novel that makes you believe in love again, a thriller that brings excitement to your daily life, or a philosophical treatise about the depths of your soul. Books are like medicine; they have the power to give you something. Sometimes it’s an answer, often a feeling, and always something to think about, dream of, discuss, learn and understand more deeply. It does not happen very often that you are reading a book and think afterwards that it was a waste of time, does it?

So how can you find a good book?

My theory is that it’s not you who is finding the book, but it’s the book that is finding you. You are found by the right book, the one you need most at that precise moment. When you are standing in a bookshop surrounded by hundreds of books, have you noticed that you are almost every time magically drawn to the book that is right for you? The book that just seems to be the answer? It is a bit like finding love. What is meant for each other, will find each other. It is like finding the pinhead in the haystack.

I truly believe in this theory as it has happened to me so many times. I am very grateful for all those books that have accompanied me on my road, that have helped me and that have given me the feeling that there is someone out there who believes in the same things and understands me. And that is what we all long for, isn’t it? To be understood.

Therefore, I always trust that my writings will find the right people at the right time. That’s all it needs.

Jeannette is a creative entrepreneur, a bestselling author, blogger, coach, and a lover of life. She has travelled around the world, always walked her own path, following her soul’s desires and listening to her intuition. Her story takes her from a corporate tourism and publishing background to gaining a lifestyle designed around her passions: travel and books.

Today, with her expertise in self-publishing, she has helped and coached hundreds of authors to successfully publish their own books. She is the founder of the self-publishing agency, Book Designs, which specializes in beautiful book designs, interactive ebook programming and consulting about publishing printed books and ebooks. She also trains university students in workshops to start their own businesses.

Jeannette is on her life’s mission to inspire others to live their dreams.

 Learn more about Jeannette: http://asayamind.com/


Why I Write by Silver Wainhouse

Please welcome Silver Wainhouse, the first in a series of guest bloggers to Writing Through the Body™.


Why I Write
Silver Wainhouse

I was a full moon baby and am a moon-ruled woman. An interesting phrase tickles my ear. Recognizing it as a thing of beauty and wanting to capture its energy, I keep index cards close and write the phrases down. I’ve been doing this for decades and guard many, ranging from Tennyson to Tupac including the words I heard an old woman say when she first saw the child of a woman she knew. My dear friend, the late poet Christopher Logue, once drew a tiny notebook from his pocket showing me that he did the same. I’m even more pleased when it’s a phrase I’ve created myself and don’t want to lose. Learning a long time ago that telling yourself to remember things like that didn’t work led me to writing them down.

Writing for me is SPEM — Spiritual, Physical, Emotional and Mental— hitting all my bases. I remember a little boy, the nephew of a friend, running through the door crying. Between tears, he said “she did it for purpose.” For purpose, he’d said. Not on purpose. I kept those words. And I’ve come to realize that my writing is done for purpose—for my SPEM—Spiritual, Physical, Emotional, and Mental needs. Six reasons I write are:

  1. To become or maintain a sense of calm. Taxing situations become less so when I write it out. Expressing the situation, my attached feelings, perceived sources and possible solutions eases tension. My blood pressure lowers and I’m rendered more objective and creative and less reactive.
  2. I write to tell stories. By chronicling those told to me and by sharing my own, I offer them as motivators and encouragement. Horrendous things do happen and people fight to live despite the event. I also love the stories of seduction and acrid responses to bullshit.
  3. The mind itself is a vessel and does not create. Its only function is to hold memory. The spirit creates. Quiet meditation and intentional connection with nature, makes me much more creative. I write because my spirit has let me know that it is an assigned role.
  4. I write because it connects me across the spectrum. I’m thrilled by the energy of our youth and admire their courage and ways in which they are tearing down divisions too long held.
  5. I write because my best friendships are connected in some way to the written word. I even met my late husband, the renowned Austryn Wainhouse, because of writing.
  6. I write because I create words, some of which are registered, and want them used. Example: WOMANISTICS:
    1. Study of woman’s ability to thrive in an environment. It endeavors to dissect what challenges her in an environment simply because she is a woman. Womanistics also addresses what aids and hinders her ability to thrive.
    2. Methods used by a woman attempting to meet such challenges.

Or my favorite, WORDJISM:

The overpowering juicy sensation felt when beautiful words are heard.


Silver Wainhouse is president of Silver Wainhouse, LLC and creative director of Womanistics. She constantly explores and shares ways in which women can be inspired, nurtured, and supported, and she converges her accumulated life skills in business management, acting, writing, myotherapy, and astrology. 

Silver has served on numerous boards and committees, including: The International Writers Center at Washington University, The Center, River Styx Magazine, and the Wellness Center of St. Louis-to name just a few. She is currently a member of the Paris Writers Group and president of The Marlboro Press at Northwestern University. In 2014, Silver became an official member of the Awesomeness Fest Tribe.

Silver can be reached at: SilverWainhouse@SilverWainhouse.com