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Belle Brett Shares Why She Writes
Contributor
Written by
She Writes
July 2018
Contributor
Written by
She Writes
July 2018

Author Belle Brett shared with She Writes why she is driven to write. Her book Gina in the Floating World is out this month. 

Creative writers often get asked the question, “Why do you write?” For me, this question doesn’t trigger the automatic and often common response “because I have to.”

I have always loved creative expression in one form or another. As the daughter of an artist, I focused more on the visual arts. Through elementary school, I wrote what today might be called graphic novels, but alas, only the drawings remain. I was over 40 when I started writing fiction, as an antidote to the exacting and intense requirements of my graduate studies. Naively, I started with a novel, and I was hooked. After I finished my dissertation, I delved into creative writing full blast, regularly taking writing classes and workshops. In the last few years, I began to put more energy into the visual arts. I find that making a watercolor painting or a collage serves as a counterpoint to the longer-term commitment required when writing novel length fiction. I confess that I am not someone who writes every day. But my creative juices flow regularly, whether through blogging, thinking about my next story, or producing art. Here is why I write:

  • To express myself creatively. I was a career counselor for many years, and I would ask my clients: What are your skills, interests, and values?  In answering these for myself, my number one value was always creative expression. I found a way to use that value in all my paid work, but never so much as when I am writing or producing art and can let my imagination run freely.
  • To work through themes that are of interest to me, particularly those around the developing person. How people tackle life’s challenges across the lifespan has been a strong theme of my fiction as well as my prior research. But I also enjoy writing about more mundane subjects of everyday life, as I do through my blog called, “Slow Downsizing.”
  • To find catharsis in exploring my own autobiography and re-working it. I have never been particularly interested in memoir, but I love seeing what happens when I use pieces from my own life and take them in different directions. Asking the question, “What if?” is a form of self-therapy.
  • To challenge myself. Writing well uses a lot of parts of the brain. Writing novel length fiction is like solving one of those giant slide piece puzzles, where you must keep moving the pieces until it all works seamlessly. It’s a delicate balancing act in which one slight change or addition can affect something happening chapters later. This sleuthing element is engrossing. In addition, finding the right word or turn of phrase keeps the brain sharp.
  • To clear my mind of everything else. The kind of intense focus that writing requires manages to sweep away all the other internal and external debris in my life.
  • To just enjoy the journey.  Even the short stories, screenplays, novel drafts, and essays that remain in my drawer represent a part of me and have each served a purpose. I am particularly pleased when I complete a piece to my satisfaction but don’t necessarily feel compelled to send it out into the world. In my work life, I always did a great deal of writing that had a purpose and an audience. By not putting pressure on myself with my personal writing, I’ve allowed myself to relish the process itself. Getting published is a whole other animal that uses a different set of skills and talents. However, I am thrilled to be on that particular road for my novel, Gina in the Floating World.

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