Friday, November 8, 2013

How Writing Is Like Running Away From Home

When I was a kid, I got into my share of trouble. But I never ran away from home. I thought about it. Threatened to do so (to the point that my mother once packed me a bag lunch and said, “Go ahead, but make sure you’re home for supper.”). But I never followed through. For one thing, I knew I had it good at home. I’ve heard ‘running away from home’ stories of friends and have always wondered how doing so might have changed me. I was a shy, timid child. (I know, some of you are asking who wrote this? J) I didn’t like to make wave. Thinking back on my life, it was kind of boring. Running away from home would have given me a great adventure story to share, might have made me look at least a little bit like the rebel I was in my own imagination.

(Photo property of Linda Rettstatt)

When I began writing about ten years ago, well into adulthood and approaching my ‘third act’ of life, I discovered the most amazing magical thing about writing. It takes me away. My characters can be anyone and I can be one of my characters. Their stories can take me one step or a thousand steps beyond any place I’ve ever dared venture.

A writer friend once told me that presenting readers with a new book should be like giving them a ticket for a train ride. The journey should take them out of their daily lives, to a new place, and give them something about which to smile, cry, laugh, fear, curse or feel hopeful. I don’t know about you, but this is what I imagine running away from home would be like.

As I considered this, I realized I’ve run away from home often—with every book I’ve written. Every story takes me on a new adventure as I slip into the skin of my heroine (and sometimes my hero—which is admittedly more of a challenge)—and set off on a new journey. I even ventured into another world this year with my newest book, In The Spirit (November 4, Champagne Books). I’d never written a paranormal story and, had anyone asked, would have said I never would. For one thing, paranormal phenomena scares me silly. But isn’t that the exact thrill of running away from home—venturing into the unknown?

We writers do just that every time we sit down with a story idea and begin to write it out. So, come on, run away with us. Grab a good book and let it take you on a new path.

Linda Rettstatt
Writing for Women


Julie Eberhart Painter said...

Absolutely right. Writing and reading is running way from home.

I was not a timid child mentally, but physically I avoided pain. Whether I peopled the house with characters during a snowstorm, or went to China, outdooors over the hill, my adventures ended at the last sunset of each day with dinner and a story.

linda_rettstatt said...

Thanks, Julie. The books that carry us away while writing also carry our readers away. The gifts that keep on giving!

Liz Fountain said...

I love the idea of running away from home with each book I write - it's certainly true, and it also involves finding a new home each time, with the characters, setting, story. Lovely, thanks!