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WHY I WRITE By Marcie Colleen
Why do I write?
That’s a great question and one that I have several answers to.
I write because I have ideas I want to share with others.
I write because writing gives me great joy.
I write because I am an avid reader and books have helped shape who I am.
I also write because it’s a way I process things that are happening in my life and around me.
I could expand upon any one of these answers. But often when I am asked why I write one particular item that sits on my desk comes to mind.
It is a red, mud-caked LEGO brick.
This red, mud-caked LEGO brick is a symbol of why I specifically write for children. Let me explain…
When Hurricane Sandy ripped through New York City and the surrounding area on October 29, 2012 it changed life for many. My neighborhood in Brooklyn was fairly unscathed, but the images from only blocks away were unbelievable. I felt helpless as I watched the destruction unfold through video and photographs online.
On a personal level, I was supposed to run the NYC Marathon less than one week later, on November 4th. I remember that the subway was still not running, so I was on the ferry to the kickoff party on November 2nd when I got the news that it would be canceled.
I was running the marathon as part of Team in Training, raising money for blood cancer research. Let’s just say, people who run marathons and raise money for good causes are the last people to just sit still and do nothing. My team already had a rental bus to transport us to the start line on Staten Island. Staten Island was one of the most devastated area. Therefore, my entire running team chose to travel to Staten Island anyway, on the morning that should have been the marathon, to help with clean up.
We arrived in an area that looked like a war zone. Whole houses were moved off their foundations, cars were packed to the roof with dirt and sand. The air buzzed of generators powering pumps and chainsaws to help with cleanup.
All day long, I worked with one family to empty their basement. Their belongings were muddied beyond recognition. Heaps of holiday decorations and photographs. But mostly toys. So many toys.
There was no question of what to keep and what to get rid of. It was all destroyed. It was all now trash.
My mind swirled with the stories of each item.
It was heartbreaking.
Before taking a wheelbarrow-full to the already overflowing piles on the curb, I pocketed this red LEGO brick.
To me it symbolizes the hardships in life that affect us all, even children.
Through my books, I hope to bring a smile or a giggle to a child’s day. To provide an escape among life's mud. If I can do that, even slightly, I will have done what I set out to do.
Why I Write (Henry Lien)
Hi. I’m Henry Lien. I’m a middle grade science-fiction/fantasy author. I write because the power of imagination is stronger than anything. Even reality. Even death. I illustrate with a story from my own life.
I am a skeptical, logical creature by nature (former lawyer here). I also never believed in soulmates. All of this changed when I met my former life partner Warwick.
However, Warwick was already ill with cancer when we met. When it became clear that Warwick was not going to prevail against his cancer, I did not accept that reality. The time we had had together was so cruelly short. So I invented a way to communicate with Warwick after he died.
Despite my skeptical and logical nature, I sometimes had dreams that contained information that I could not account for, including information about deeply personal domestic secrets and medical conditions about other people that I could not have had any possible way of knowing. I fully expected that after Warwick died, I would be visited by dreams of him. The problem was that I could never be sure whether it would truly be Warwick or just a figment of my unconscious that longed to see him again.
So I devised a system. I told Warwick to think of a password. I told him not to tell me the password but to write it down on a piece of paper and seal it up. Then, after he died, if he were able to contact me in my dreams, he must say the password to me. I would check the word he said to me within the dream against the word that he wrote on the paper. If they were the same, I would know it was him.
After Warwick died, I worried about losing the paper. Warwick’s brother-in-law was staying with me. I asked him to open the paper and make a photocopy of it, but not to read it aloud. Alas, Warwick’s brother-in-law was hard of hearing. He misheard me. He opened the paper and read aloud to me the word written on there.
I was despondent. Now if Warwick visited me, I would never know if it were really him or if it were just a cruel figment of my imagination. Warwick’s sister comforted me by saying, “Well, you were very clever boys to think of that system. But when Warwick visits you in your dreams, you’ll know when it’s him. And you won’t need a password to know it.”
I didn’t dream of Warwick again after he died.
Years later, I received a phone call while driving on the freeway. I answered the phone. The line was crackling, but the voice was unmistakable. Warwick said, “Meet me at 249 N. Main Road. I am waiting for you there now.” His voice was rushed but happy.
Then I woke up.
I googled “249 N. Main Road” but found nothing.
However, it could be “Main” or “Maine” or “Mayne” or “Meigne”. Further, Warwick was Australian and his accent could be hard for me to understand.
I still haven’t looked further. I am not sure that I want to. I am not sure that I need to.
I used my imagination to find a way around the reality of my soulmate’s death. Reality has become flexible, negotiable, and porous for me.
And I like it that way.
And in my writing, I find those pores in reality and, with the power of my imagination, stretch them until they become portals into vast, strange, gorgeous new realities. The world of Pearl from my Peasprout Chen series, the friends I have made there, and the imagined art form of kung fu figure skating are as vivid and real to me as quote-unquote reality.
And I like it that way.
Reality is full of possibilities.
If we decide it’s going to be.
Love to all,