Why I Write

It all started with the little red memo book--thirty-three years later, I'm still writing.

It all started with the little red memo book–thirty-three years later, I’m still writing.

I write to know that I am not alone…ok, I admit it—I write because I want to change the world, one letter at a time.

My love affair with words began my eighth year when I realized that by refusing to read in school (I hated those inane ‘Dick and Jane’ books), I had denied myself a wonderful world of adventure and intrigue.

It all started when my dad, who read to us every night (Sam Campbell books, Vulpes, the Red Fox and other stories about nature and animals), chose to read The Summer of My Falcon. The story sucked me in, and I groaned when he closed the book at a cliffhanger. I grumbled as I stomped off to bed and plotted my next move.

When the house quieted, I crept down the stairs and stealthily snagged the book from the coffee table then skipped up the stairs. I huddled under my covers, flipped on my  flashlight and inhaled the book—a real book with real characters and a real plot that made me want to read and read and read. I’ve been a chain reader ever since.

Fast forward six years and I remain a gawky, gangly, sometimes grumpy (my parents claim my terrible twos lasted from 18 months to 18 years) teenager who feels as if she has no friends in the world and that no one understands her.  I waded into the wonderful world of Harlequin romances–where the heroine never sits shyly in the corner, always has perfectly coifed hair and always got the good-looking wealthy man by the end of the book.  After reading countless romances, I knew I could write one, too.

I pulled out my grandmother’s old electric typewriter and a sheaf of onionskin paper and started to pound out the great Harlequin romance.  I worked tirelessly for two weeks, taking covert peaks at other writer’s Harlequin’s to make sure I was following the formula.  But I realized that all those love stories seemed to leave me empty and alone–even my brilliant manuscript.  So I started writing in a journal.

At first, I wrote to “Dear Kitty.”  This soon grew old.  Anne Frank had died in the Holocaust and it seemed silly to copy someone else’s great idea.  I realized that the only one who knew me through and through yet still promised to befriend me was my heavenly Father. For the last thirty-three years I’ve written daily to my best friend.

That daily practice of writing has done two things. It has assured me that I am NOT alone. Answered prayers, problems solved, peace in trauma and medical miracles all prove that I am NEVER alone. The daily writing has also honed my writing skills and aspirations beyond wanting to write a best-selling Harlequin.

I don’t find it easy to call myself a ‘writer.’ I currently sit on three mostly completed manuscripts (not counting the 80 pages of my wonderful Harlequin…), but I feel paralyzed and so I wait and I wonder what to do next.

And yet I feel a gentle urging from my best friend to push on. I need to set aside my fears of rejection (I’m still that shy girl at heart, I guess) and quit writing just for me and for Him and to know that I’m not alone. The time has come to look towards loftier goals and hope that my letters and words will show someone else that THEY are not alone.

I may never write ‘the great’ anything, but I CAN share my thoughts and hopes and aspirations and hope that they will touch someone else’s life and lead them to a deeper knowledge of who they are and can become through a love that is greater than any romance novel.

Why do you write?

Anita currently teaches English to 7th-12th graders. She describes herself as a ‘recovering cancer caregiver’ who gives thanks daily that her husband has been cancer-free for ten years.

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  • Love this. I, too, got totally sucked in by real books when I was young and I think that really impacted my words. I can see that in the first things I wrote–it was like the dialogue and everything else bled right into my mind and then onto the pages I wrote. I love that writing for you makes you not alone and totally relate to that. Congrats on your published works and manuscripts–I know that feels nice and accomplished. 🙂

    • Anita Ojeda

      Thanks, Kirsten! Now I need to fling off my writer’s hat and put on my editor’s loupe. Than I need to toss one of those babies out into the open ocean and pray for the best.

  • Oh, yes. The book that took me captive at eight was The Secret Garden. Then I went on to read the classics. You know, Babysitters Club. 😛

    Loved this – especially seeing your years worth of journals. I’m a journal gal, myself.

    • Anita Ojeda

      Babysitter’s Club, the Secret Garden–hey, they’re books (and better than Harlequin romances 😉 )! I’ve never had all my journals together in on place before–it kind of shocked me!

  • Oh my goodness! This is simply beautiful. Almost brought tears to my eyes and I didn’t even cry watching The Notebook. Well said, girl.

    • Anita Ojeda

      Thank you, Amanda! My husband laughs during The Notebook. It’s also his favorite movie. He tends to laugh during emotional times rather than crying. Needless to say, it made watching said movie in the theatre a little awkward–all the sniffing, snuffling women thought he was laughing at THEM!

  • Anita, I feel as if I have walked in your shoes… having traveled a very similar life path. I’m 52-years old and I still love children’s books. I like how you have “paused” in your journey, as if you are looking out the window to the horizon, charting the course to a new adventure.

    I’m going to follow you on Twitter and keep up with your writing – I love your spirit! 🙂

    • Anita Ojeda

      Thank you for your gracious words, Susan :). It’s nice to know that I’m not alone! I look forward to reading your blog posts as well. Children’s books are awesome…if we could only get away from the paranormal dystopia trend…Hope I didn’t step on anyone’s toes!

  • I love this story… how you used words to bring back to the place where you feel full. And full confession: I was a reader of Sweet Dreams Romance novels when I was a teen and I think somewhere in my countless journals are several half started heart twittering romance novels…

    • Anita Ojeda

      Thank you, Tonya! I’m glad I’m not the only one who read and wrote sappy romances as a teenager ;). It’s probably time to pull out the Harlequin manuscript and see how really awful it is in order to prove to myself that I’ve grown as a writer in the intervening years!

  • I loved all those nature and animal books when I was a kid! What happens to us as adults that we leave that magical world behind?

    I can relate to your sitting on almost-complete manuscripts. I get so far and then…? I don’t know if it’s a fear that saying it’s finished means having to let it go and opening it (me) up to criticism and rejection or if I don’t know how to end something or if I just get excited about something else and am over the previous project, but I do know that not finishing things means I don’t have work to share with others. Goal for this year: finish my work!! Thanks for sharing that I’m not alone in this and making me realize I need to be conscious of this and change it.

    • Anita Ojeda

      Maybe it’s time to read some more nature books (other than my bird nerd guide…). The vulnerability is the hardest part for me (although I hate admitting it). Here’s to finishing! (and being vulnerable and sending things in 😉 ).