Under my skin

In an article I read this morning, I came across a quote that spoke to me. I’ve heard other quotes along these lines, but this is fresh in my mind, and convenient for sharing:

Perhaps most importantly, write for an audience of one — yourself. Write the story you need to tell and want to read. It’s impossible to know what others want so don’t waste time trying to guess. Just write about the things that get under your skin and keep you up at night.
–Khaled Housseni
*underlined emphasis mine
For the entire article from which the quote is excerpted, look here.

When I started writing my first book, it was only supposed to be a  short story. It was an idea, a thought that wouldn’t leave me alone. It was, indeed, something under my skin, keeping me up at night. I really only wanted to get it out of my head so it would leave me alone. I had no intention at the start to become a writer, much less to write a full-length novel. Writing was, for me, a hobby, an amusement to pass the time and share with the few friends who cared to visit my blog. Music was my passion, my life, my vocation. I (dramatic pause here) am a Singer!

Though, as I have said in a previous post, somehow this itch, this nuisance, became an overwhelming desire to share a story. It is now where my passion finds its outlet. And yes, it keeps me up at night. When I read this quote, I smiled and laughed a bit inside.

Last night I had turned off my phone, turned off the light, and had finally snuggled into bed. I was warm and cozy, no where near drifting off to sleep, but lethargic and comfortable. And it happened. I had A Thought. The itch that gets under my skin and keeps me up at night. I knew if I ignored it and tried to sleep, it might be gone in the morning – or at least, it wouldn’t be as fiery. Strike while the iron is hot – so they say, and so must I do!

With a frustrated, “Dammit!” I threw off the covers and grabbed my laptop to capture the scene in my head. My laughing heroine, her chagrined suitor and their conversation. It was lovely. It was cathartic. And I was relieved. I made my way back to bed, my mind at ease as I drifted easily off to sleep.

The itch had been scratched – or I’d taken the proverbial dose of Benadryl. That’s it precisely – writing is my Benadryl. It keeps me comfortable and relieves the itch so I can sleep at night!

As for the first part of the quotation, this comes naturally. Yes, I write what I want to read. More truly, I write what I must to relieve the itch. What I put on paper (or the computer screen, more aptly) is not written because I want to make a mint selling books. I didn’t look at the landscape and crunch the numbers and write what I hear and see will sell best. If I wanted to make a ton of money, surely there are better occupations than the ones I’ve chosen! (or which have chosen me…) I have no idea yet if anyone else (larger groups of anyones than just my trusty beta-readers) wants to read it, but I have a hunch they will. If not, I am still happy. I have a story that needed to be told, was itching to get out, and I have written it as best I could. When I read it, I will be moved again by the story of characters – people – I have come to love and cherish as dearly as family.


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