Why I Write (Four)
Number four in my series ‘Why I Write’. I hope you’re enjoying hearing from other writers as much as I am. It’s going to be interesting to see what are the similarities and differences in the various writers’ responses.
Today I’m really pleased to have Jo Phillips as a guest writer. I ‘met’ Jo about two years ago when she emailed me about my experience of self-publishing Unravelling. She was beginning her publishing journey at the time and exploring the various options. She loved my book, so of course I loved her! More seriously, I’ve met her several times in real life since, and she is an incredibly warm and supportive writing friend – she helped me enormously with the publication of my little book ‘A Writer’s Alphabet’. She is also a talented and dedicated writer – in the last two years, she’s published three highly-successful novels, a novella and a collection of short stories, as well as working on an MA in creative writing.
When Lindsay approached me and asked me to write a post for her new series, I agreed without even thinking about it. After all, it can’t be hard for a writer to talk about why they write. Can it?
Actually, it’s not hard at all – what is difficult is reining in my natural tendency to go all around the houses before getting to the point! So, to cut to the chase, here is my ‘author mission statement’ – something I wrote in 2012 after my first novel was published:
“I write stories to entertain, and to offer (the reader, and myself) a temporary escape into another life. I create interesting and engaging characters who may linger with you even after you’ve finished reading their stories. I write about characters who learn to examine their lives – their motivations, hopes and fears – and who find the courage to change. I write about the important stuff: life, love, loss and lies – including the lies we tell ourselves. And yes, I want my stories to change the world. A little tiny bit of it, anyway.”
The thing with affirmations (a mission statement is a bit like an affirmation, after all) is that they should be worded as though what you’re aiming for is already fact. These are my aims when I write; this is why I write. To touch people in the way I’ve been touched by wonderful books; to make people think, perhaps, about an aspect of their life they are struggling with. If I could have my entire career over again I would probably train as some type of counsellor – I have a kind of compulsion to help people sort themselves out. (Some might say: whether they want to be sorted out or not!)
I’ve always written fiction. I guess all children do at some point, and the vast majority of true writers continue to write their whole lives long, whether they have hope of publication or not. The other day I was chatting to a chick-lit author who said she only took up writing a couple of years ago; that it was as much a business decision as anything. I’ll confess, I was a little shocked! Of course, her love of writing must have been hiding, latent, waiting to pounce. But to me, since the moment I could scrawl my letters on the page, stories have been essential – writing has been something I just do, something I couldn’t not do. I write because I have to; I publish because I can.
Joanne Phillips lives in rural Shropshire with her husband and young daughter. She’s the author of romantic comedies Can’t Live Without and The Family Trap, and the Flora Lively series of contemporary romantic mysteries. Can’t Live Without was an Amazon top 100 bestseller in 2012 and her books regularly appear on category bestseller lists. Before becoming a writer, Joanne had jobs as diverse as hairdresser, air hostess and librarian, but now divides her time between writing, freelance indexing and finding creative ways to avoid housework. She’s also a big fan of super-dark chocolate, iced coffee and Masterchef. Joanne blogs about writing and publishing at www.joannephillips.co.uk
Tags: Why I Write Series