Why Do I Write?

Why do I write? This is not a rhetorical question. Writing has created far more work and stress in my life. This week in particular has been an emotional rollercoaster. A box of Josiah books arrived on Monday – oh, joy! Except that there was a typo on the back cover – new low.

How does this happen? I got a fairly canned apology from the publisher, and they are working on reprinting the books as quickly as possible. But, I have a guest blog out, written two weeks ago, that claims my books are available at all the usual retailers. Unfortunately, that’s not true.

So, really, why do I write?

I was contacted by another author who apologized for not recognizing me when we met a few days ago. Yikes! I really don’t want to be recognized! As she introduced herself, she gave me all her contact information. I had to explain that I don’t have a Twitter account, I pop onto Facebook occasionally, and that I’m really just an introvert, so please don’t expect me to be making much contact. The reality is I’d be perfectly happy sitting in a cabin in the mountains with my dogs. (Oh, wait…that’s what I am doing at the moment.)

I’ve been painting. (Yes, I know you’d think the entire cabin has been painted twice by now, but I’m still working on the upstairs.) Painting gives me plenty of ponder time. And, I have been giving the “WHY” of writing serious thought. I definitely don’t need more work and stress. I definitely am not looking for fame and fortune. So, why do I do it?

Then it hit me. Deep down, I want to be that author.

As the painting strokes soothed my anxious soul, I thought about Daniel this week. He’s one of my eighth grade students who walked into my classroom last August reading at approximately a third grade level and quite confident that he “hates reading.” It’s been a long road with Daniel convincing him that he didn’t hate reading. Like many students, Daniel saw reading as a chore – it was hard, and it certainly wasn’t fun.

Part of the problem is that students are often pushed toward books that aren’t at their level and aren’t about topics that interest them. Fortunately, Daniel was responsive to using the Lexile.com website and choosing books that were accessible to him on topics he liked. Over the course of the school year, his reading has improved by three grade levels. That’s huge!

About two weeks ago, Daniel started telling me, “Mrs. Rendall, I’m almost finished with my book. It’s SO good!” Not gonna lie – that warmed my heart. Watching him struggle to finish the last ten pages was agony for me. Every day it was, “Mrs. Rendall, I’m almost finished!”

Finally, on Thursday, he chose to stay in the classroom rather than play outside. He was that close to the end of his book. And, he did it. He finished the book, threw it across the room, looked at me, and said, “I can’t believe that was the ending. Why did he do that to me?”

We had a terrific discussion on what made him like this book beyond any other book he’d ever read. He talked about the main character and the excitement. He talked about feeling like he was actually a part of the story. He wailed over the ending. He came to a “now what” moment. He’d spent weeks reading this book, thinking about this book, wanting to finish this book. Now what? “Mrs. Rendall, I really loved that book. What am I going to do?”

I’d never heard of the author and wasn’t sure if there are any other books or a sequel. I asked, but Daniel didn’t know. Then he smiled, shrugged, and picked the book up from the floor.

“It was so good; I’m going to read it again!” He snuggled down into the floor pillows and turned to the first page.

If I can ever get that book out of Daniel’s hands, I’m going to find the author’s contact information and let him know what a huge difference he’s made in the life of a child.

That’s why I write. That’s the author I want to be.

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