Monday 9 November 2015

Writing Life: Why I Feel Compelled to Write

By Cassandra Samuels

Last month I talked about the people around us not "getting" it about our writing. This month I delve a little more inward: what it is inside myself that compels me to write. 

It could be different for everyone, but for me it has been a yearning for a long time. When I was in high school, I read Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. It changed my life. I hadn't really sought out books to read for pleasure before and, although I had enjoyed other books I was made to read, this book made me want to write.

By Jane Austen

Is it any wonder I write Regency Romance?

That year I started a novel. I hadn't any experience and, at fifteen, I hadn't experienced much, but I knew some things about history - Australian history. I'd studied convicts and the gold rush, so that is where I began. I still have it today; half typed, half handwritten. And the premise is still a good one, if I do say so myself. One day I may re-write that story. Inside of myself I had found a storyteller.
Author unknown

It is still a mystery to me what kind of spark was lit inside of me that year, but it is a spark that has turned into an inferno over time. Although I loved to write, I was logical too. Even my teachers steered me towards journalism, well aware that the odds of writing a novel and actually getting it published were against me. I did do that journalism course and, while I loved it, it didn't give me what I was looking for. I let my dream slip away for more practical things. 

I got married, had children and, when I was about thirty, I suddenly realised I was in a funk. I was a wife, a mother, an employee, but I had lost the essence of myself somewhere. My spark was pressing to be fed some fuel to burn. It wasn't that I was unhappy, it was just that I was missing something, or perhaps had ignored my need to write. I rang my mother one day and told her I was thinking of starting to write again. She was all for it, urging me to see this thing through. 

I started to write but I really needed some guidance. These were the days before books on writing were readily available in stores, and buying them online from the US cost a fortune in shipping. I wrote to the only Australian Historical Romance author I knew - Stephanie Laurens. I received an email back with lots of helpful information, but the best part of the email was that she urged me to join RWAustralia. All I can say is Thank You, Stephanie!

author unknown
I didn't even know such an organisation existed. I joined that very week. Not only that, I asked if there was a local chapter I could join. That group was Breathless in the Bush. I cannot begin to tell you all how much I have absorbed and learned and put into practice from these two amazing groups. They fed my soul with the knowledge that if I really wanted to write a book, I could. The spark turned into a flame that I have been fanning ever since.

 For me, writing is that 'something' inside you that drives you back to the 
keyboard/notepad no matter what. (Tweet this)

And you know what else? The more you do it, the more that 'something' grows inside you. The 'something' is creative passion and drive. It isn't something that can be turned on and off. It's just there. Sometimes we can successfully shove it to the side for a while but eventually, if you really want it, it will keep nudging you until you give in.

Some say writing is like an illness that takes over the body and mind. Illness to me means something negative and in a lot of ways the need to write does take over you, but for me writing is most definitely a positive.  

Writing is an ever present bubble of creative thought that swims about in
 one’s subconscious. (Tweet this)

But, boy, am I happy it’s there. It doesn't always cooperate, but when the words are flowing it is the best feeling in the world.

I’m lucky, my husband wants me to succeed, wants me to follow my dreams. Secretly I think he just wants total control over the tv remote, but what does it matter? Without him, and the support of my family and the fabulous groups I belong to (not to forget my amazing critique partners), I would never have finished my ms - the one that turned into my published book, A Scandalous Wager.

Are you compelled to write? What compels you to write? 

Love to love - supporting other writers.
Love to learn - that I can achieve anything I want to.
Love to laugh - at my beautiful grandson's funny faces.


  1. Hi Cassandra, what a lovely post; very personal and inspirational. Thanks for sharing your love of writing along with the journey you've had with it. Unlike you, I didn't find my passion for writing until nine years ago when my career plans changed. Encouraged to write by my mother for "therapy" I discovered a whole new world that I never knew existed. I still marvel how sometimes one door closes or your path changes and something else opens up. Now, like you, I have to write. It is a very strange addiction but a great one and I love being a writing addict.

  2. Hi Karen. What great advice your mother gave you Karen and look where you are now with two books out Sinister Intent and Deadly Obsession and a third on the way. It's not an easy job to do but somehow we still love it.

  3. Hey, Cassandra! Soo many great thoughts here. So much we can all take away with us. Thank you!

    1. Thank you Dee. It is sort of strange to analyse myself like this but it has been so good to know that it's okay to feel this way about my writing. When did you first feel that urge to write?

    2. The first time I could hold a pencil--LOL--been writing ever since. At times it does feel like a an obsession or an addiction. If I miss out on my writing time I go through withdrawals and I get a bit cranky...ok, truth I get a whole lot cranky.

    3. I know what you mean about getting cranky. I get a bit fidgety and hubby knows I need to go and write.

  4. It's always interesting to read about another author's writing journey. My writing bug started in primary school and I don't remember a time when I didn't want to write (although, like you, I had to put it on hold for a number of years because of practical reasons i.e. having to work to pay off our house!). Thanks for telling us your story.

    1. I'm glad you enjoyed it and it resonated with you Marilyn. Those that are able to write full time are so blessed (and I think they would agree that they know this) and I hope to be among them one day soon. What better way to spend my day than reading and writing the stories I love to tell?

  5. A very inspiring writing journey, Cassandra. I've been writing since a young primary school age, starting out with poetry. It was a school assignment that turned my interest to fiction, and being a romance reader, of course I had to write romantic stories! You're so right about the need to write always being there, nagging you when you're doing other things besides writing. I, too, dream of being able to give all my time to writing. Bliss!

    1. Thanks Enisa. I do remember loving creative writing in primary school but never thought of being a writer as a job until I was in high school. I love that the type of reader you were influenced your story telling from such a young age.

  6. What a fabulous post, Cassandra. I love your writing journey story! What it said to me was that it's never to late to find your writing self. It might be lurking beneath other 'roles' in your life, but it's never extinguished. Your love of words and writing comes through in your post. I remember writing a poem which was published in my old School Magazine, and the pride that came from seeing it *in print*. I don't think I've ever lost that moment, and delight in seeing how words come together to create something beautiful.

    1. Hi Malvina. You are very right. Life is full of ups and downs and crazy times. It doesn't always allow us to write all the time, but that spark will always be lingering in the background just waiting. It could be a story idea that just comes to you, or some other inspiration but suddenly the spark will come to life and writing will be done. It could be a poem, a short story or a novel it doesn't really matter. There is a lot of pride and joy in seeing something in print (in digital or paper). There is a reason writers strive for it, after all. The validation of publishing something is a reward that is pretty damn good. So, I encourage all writers to keep striving no matter how large or how small that goal is.

  7. Hi Cassie, I particularly liked your comment about creative passion nudging you until you give in. I completed a draft manuscript of a romantic novel many years ago. I like to think a nudge from my creative side inspired me to rejoin "Breathless in the Bush". I enjoyed reading the love story of Lisbeth and Oliver and look forward to reading your next novel.

  8. Thank you Sharon. I am so happy you enjoyed A Scandalous Wager. I am so glad that your creative passion bought you back to us here at Breathless, RWAus and writing. That spark never left you it was simply waiting for the right time. Can't wait to see what you will create now your spark is being fanned into a flame.


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