Oh, The Questions I Get

Writing books has allowed me to meet so many fabulous readers. I love getting the chance to speak to them about my books.

When I wrote for kids, back in the Mesozoic Period, I used to laugh at their funny and guileless questions.

  • Are you rich?
  • Did your mom help you?
  • Do you really know all those words?

When I transitioned to writing for adults, I continued to get funny and guileless questions.

  • How do you write and take care of your kids and get your laundry folded?
  • Can you help me get an agent?
  • Do you really know all those words?

I get some standard questions, almost every time I’m in front of an audience.

  • Where do you get your ideas?
  • Talk about the research you do.
  • Explain your writing process.

I love answering these. First, because I don’t have to think too hard about the answer, and second, because I ask these same questions of authors.

But recently I was asked a question I’d never been asked before.

And it stumped me.

“Why do you write?”

Hmm. Why do I write.

I stumbled through an acceptable answer that seemed to satisfy him, but I’ve been mulling it over ever since.

Why do I write?

And now I have an answer. A real one.

I write to figure out what I think about something. I write so I can meet readers and other writers. I write to learn about a topic and about myself. I write novels because it seems impossible. I write the next one to see how I’m going to make it happen this time. I write to entertain people, and myself. I write to practice self-discipline. I write to explore human emotion and motivation. I write to make money. I write to prove to the world I was here. I write to learn humility. I write because it seems natural to me to express myself in words. I write because I enjoy a challenge. I write because it keeps me from having to get a real job. I write crime fiction because otherwise, my lifetime of finely curated esoteric trivia about serial killers, poisons, and forensics would spill out at some inopportune place and time and cause deep humiliation for my husband.

Writers … why do you write? And readers … what’s your favorite question to ask writers?

41 thoughts on “Oh, The Questions I Get

  1. Thanks for asking, Becky! On the fiction side, I write to entertain, inform, and inspire. For non-fiction, I help busy people write a book readers will love. I don’t pretend to be a big name writer with books flying off the shelf. Instead, my goal is to make life a bit more enjoyable for others.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Oh, I forgot about nonfiction! I write nonfiction because no matter where I am in my journey, I can always help someone else. And so many people have helped me—and continue to help me— over the years! I love the analogy of reaching one hand forward and one hand backward. There are always people ahead of you willing to help, and people behind who you can help.

      And I’m with you, Grant. Whenever I get a case of the Poor Beckys the Universe almost always immediately reminds me that I’m somebody’s favorite author. And that’s enough.

      Liked by 4 people

  2. Becky,

    What a wonderful and thoughtful answer to the question. Any one of those would be an answer in and of itself. Adding them all is so enriching for readers like me.

    I don’t have an ‘author’ question but I am proud I asked of a panel of actors representing their TV show once. Since there was the ‘big name’ person, all the other panelists got to sit and appear interested as most of the questions were directed to him. My question was, ‘What were you doing when you were offered this role and what happened?’ Every panel member got to answer; they spoke of their real life experience and felt involved. And, I think it resonated because, at a future panel, I heard the moderator use the same question for them!

    Liked by 5 people

  3. I cannot find the quote, but there’s a writer out there who summed it up for me: I write because my characters are stronger, braver, and smarter than I can be in real life (that’s a summation). They do things I just can’t do – but I want to. And as Flannery O’Connor said, I write to know what I think.

    I always like “Do you know who did it when you start?” And my answer is always, “Sort of.”

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Big Flannery fan here! That’s actually how my Mystery Writer’s series came to be. I was reading a thriller with a really kickass protagonist and I thought, “Sheesh, what would I do in that sitch?” And the answer was … um … not THAT! So I developed Charlee Russo, midlist mystery author, to see what SHE would do.

      And “sort of” is the same answer I’d give, Liz!

      Liked by 4 people

  4. Quite the thought provoking topic, Becky. At the risk of sounding overly dramatic, I write because doing so saved my life. Literally.
    In the summer of 2011, I was deep in the dark well of as yet undiagnosed depression. I was planning on taking my life. Had the method and location and was waiting for the right time.
    Then a story popped into my head. As days went by, the characters became more insistent that I had to tell their story. In August of 2011, I started writing that story. As it progressed, my depression eased and I became able to gather the courage to get the clinical help I needed.
    Writing helps keep that dark cloud of depression at arm’s length. And on the lighter side of things, I have a grand time making things up and seeing where an idea takes me!

    Liked by 6 people

    1. Wow, JC, I’m glad those characters stepped into your life! The book world would be greatly diminished without your books and your voice. And maybe, just maybe, that same story is true for many writers. Maybe not as profoundly as yours, but definitely somewhere along that line.

      And it is true, making stuff up is FUN! I’ve always liked that t-shirt that says, “I lie for a living.”

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Thanks, Becky. I go back and forth all the time about whether to tell that story because it starts so dark.

        And I need one of those shirts!

        Liked by 3 people

      2. JC, I’ve always found the more I talk about something terrible, the less power it has. And I truly believe that for every brave soul like you who opens up, there are 100 more lurking with the very same issue. That’s why I go on and on (and on and on) about my spinal tumor surgery. I get so many messages from people saying what I wrote helped them through some crisis of their own. And on a lighter topic, when I wrote about my boys going into the Navy, both more than ten years ago. I *still* get email from grateful moms! It’s very gratifying, knowing my story helped someone.

        Liked by 3 people

    2. J.C., We are all so glad that your future characters rallied to inspire you and change the direction of your life. The world–and so many readers’ bookshelves–are a better and more interesting place thanks to you!!!

      Liked by 3 people

    3. I am honored and touched that you shared that with us, J.C. And you never know when someone else might be going through the same thing and be in turn saved by hearing your experience. SO very glad that story popped into your head!

      Liked by 4 people

    4. J.C., thank you so much for sharing this. There are no words to adequately express how happy I am that you made it through that dark time. You bring light and love wherever you go. I’m grateful for that story, those characters, and most of all, YOU. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Gosh, I’m going to have to think over that question, Becky. It’s a tough one! I can tell you right now, though, that I do NOT write to “practice self-discipline,” lol. I think there is a little bit of myself in all of my characters, including the crazy (quirky?) ones. The question I most ask authors: “Could I get a picture with you?”

    Liked by 3 people

    1. LOL, Lisa! Every time you sit your butt in a chair to write you’re practicing self-discipline. Some of us just need more practice than others. ha! I too have curated quite an album of photos. I have this hilarious one of me and Tess Gerritson when selfies were still kinda new. She looks fantastic; I look … um … let’s just say “weird.”

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I’ve definitely had my share of fangirl moments, but I was lucky enough to be the emcee for a couple of writing conferences so I had opportunity and reason to hang out with The Famous Ones. I have lots of little moments tucked away to remember: Jeffrey Deaver complimenting my shoes; becoming “bathroom buddies” with Wendy Corsi Staub so we’d both remember to pee before her keynote; Jeff Lindsay (the fab writer of the Dexter books) singing to me. They all reminded me that they were where I was once, and that they put on their gold-leaf pantaloons one leg at at time!

        Liked by 2 people

  6. I so love this list of reasons you write, Becky! And many of them apply to me, as well. But I think the primary reason I write is because I have this deed need to create–something. And, having tried music, art, and other disciplines, it turns out I work best with words. I’ve often described myself as being like a shark, needing constant forward progress in order to keep my sanity. Writing provides that for me. (And as a side benefit–which I would have never guessed when I commenced my first Sally Solari book–the vocation comes with an amazing, generous, beautiful crowd of other wonderful people in the crime-writing community!)

    Liked by 3 people

    1. So true, Leslie! And now that you mention it, I have lots of creative endeavors I dabble in too. I sew, cross stitch, design t-shirts and stuff for my Zazzle store, and I make purses out of repurposed books and such. And I’m desperate to become proficient at tap dancing! I hadn’t thought about it, but maybe lots of writers search for other outlets before, during, and after their writing gigs.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Becky, what a great post! My answer when anyone asks this question is, I write because I have to. I can’t NOT write. I once heard Earlene Fowler say on a panel she was retired. I was mystified. All I could think was, how do you that?!

    Liked by 3 people

  8. What a great list, Becky! It’s a great feeling when a reader says they loved one of my books. But, if I’m honest, like Ellen I write because I’m compelled to.
    Weirdest question I’ve been asked (several times now as I sit in a bookshop or library behind a stack of my books, pen in hand: Are you the author?!

    Liked by 1 person

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