Why words? Why writing?


Each writer comes to be a writer via as many routes as they can imagine.  Or write about.   For me I write to live.  I live to write.   It’s no great stretch of the imagination to say, or write, that writing literally saved my life when I was a young boy.   There are very few ‘free’ things in this world, but for the most part words really are free.  All you have to do is speak them or write and nowadays you can often read words (like this blog) for FREE!   

My favorite saying is: Writers are readers.  Readers often become writers.   I have always been an avid reader and loved the worlds that words, mere words, took me to.   As a young boy life was rough.  Rough as in dirt poor poverty rough.   Books and stories were my escape from the harsh reality of life.   My favorite books to read as a boy were any stories that centered on animals.  Particularly, dogs.  I loved dog books and could not get enough of them:  BIG RED, LAD, A DOG; OLD YELLER, LASSIE COME HOME, THE DOG IN MY LIFE, and so on.   I have always loved dogs and to this day still do.   In fact, we have eight dogs in our life!  Note:  We are very involved with shelter dog rescue.

Writing and dogs were my “comfort food” you might say.   They drew me like a moth to a candle flame.  I could not NOT read.  And I could not NOT love dogs.   It’s that simple.

I love books (like most writers do).  I love the look of them, the shape of them, the feel of them, and, of course, the smell of them.   I can get lost in a good book for hours, days.   There have been many nights when I have lain in our huge carved wooden bed reading all night long, not able to leave the story.

I suppose I began writing my own story and stories when I was around twelve years old.   I kept a journal and recorded the mundane details of my daily existence.   But I yearned for more.  A more exciting life to write about.   Naturally, the easiest thing to do was to begin to embroider my own life’s story and then branch out into creating entirely original fictional stories that had nothing to do with my, but reflected the life I would love to live.  There was excitement, haunted houses, mysterious train journeys, even more mysterious strangers who watched me constantly and gave me the jitters.   

My fictional life became a lot more exciting than my reality life so I wrote — every day.   Words gave me control over a world, characters, a life that I longed to live.  My own reality life was something I seemed to little or no control over.   Escape is what I longed for and escape writing is what I did.  I wrote to escape.

People talk about living in an alternate universe.  I suppose this is true of many writers.   Writing about a character or a world truly does take over your existence.  For a while anyway.   I seemed to write the most when I was at my low ebb, or in the “depths of despair” as Anne Shirley would say.   The more depressed and stressed I felt, the more I wrote.   

Writing words literally saved my life.   

Writing is a cathartic release from the pressures of the reality of our lives.   We can fell in control, feel happy, or just simply be.  Be whatever it is we want to be at any given moment in time in our story.   The more I wrote about the life I longed to live the more my own reality life began to reflect my fictional life.  

Today I live the life I always imagined I would like to live.  It’s not a perfect life by any means, but it’s a happy life, a productive life, a life filled with adventures.  And dogs.  And books.  And one man who loves me and makes me feel safe and secure in my reality life.   I think the expression I’m looking for is: I’m living the good life. 

This is not to say a rich lifestyle (as in rich and famous) but rich in being happy and being where I want to be.   And being free to write as much and for as long as I desire.

Most likely it was simply a matter of time before I started “blogging”.  I detest the word blogging but the activity serves a purpose.   Writers feel compelled to write.   It’s almost like an addiction.  Oh, good grief, it IS an addiction!

I still write in journals (professional writing logs and personal journals) as well as earn my living professionally as both a writer and illustrator.  I write in endless chat dialog boxes and on my FaceBook page (which I consider just another form of a personal journal letting friends and family know what I’m up to, thinking, or have stumbled across in cyberspace that I think is interesting.

Words are my life.  My life is words.

I decided to start this blog to offer a bit of insight into my life as a writer.   This blog is titled “The Writing Life at Henwoodie” and I’m fairly certain that anyone who starts reading the blog will wonder “What IS Henwoodie?”    

Simple answer.  Henwoodie is the name of our house.   We live in a one hundred year old Arts and Crafts house that looks like a giant henhouse.  Hence the name: Henwoodie.  

Here is Henwoodie:

Henwoodie Christmas 2013 2

It is here at Henwoodie that I do nearly all my writing, either sitting in the Breakfast Room staring out at the terrace and gardens and trees.  Or, sitting on the terrace listening to the sounds of nature and thinking and writing.   Most often it is when I’m in bed, late at night, with words bombarding my brain from every imaginable direction.

Writing in bed is the perfect place for me because our bed becomes the world that I am writing about.  Lately, that world is in a 1920s First Class train compartment barreling across a strange landscape in Europe or Scotland not knowing exactly where the journey will end, but paying attention to all the details of the journey.

Our bed

This is our bed.  You have to picture this bed in a room painted a dark forest green with a very light ceiling and rail above.   The bed has a thick comfortable mattress, a cozy quilt, eight pillows, and at least five dogs.  And me.

Here is our bed in reality:

Bed messy

Writing can make quite a mess of the bed, as you can see.

Lying in bed with the pups and my laptop always compels me to want to write.

I’ll end this post with this thought:  Words are all we have with which to communicate our thoughts and feelings.   Ideally, our actions support our words.   Words can weave a magic spell, take to another realm in time, or inflict intolerable amounts of pain.   I like to think of words as pearls.  When strung together just so they can create something of great beauty.  Or something of great horror.   Choose your words carefully.  String them together thoughtfully.   Cherish your words just as you would treasure pearls.

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