How writing has improved my quality of life?

On a beautiful crisp morning I am faced with this question. One I have not thought of in the past, not as in depth as I write this article. Heart pounding in my chest, as it always does when I write a story. I sure have food for thought on this lovely morning. The rain is pelting gently on my window, the sound is comforting as I seek the deepest parts of my heart and soul, to come up with an answer to a challenging question.

As a whole, we all have a different opinion of what the quality of our lives means to us. It’s a personal journey. Some might want a fast car, others, a trip overseas. Or a walk on the beach. Writing encompasses all of those things in my life. In one word I shall describe writing as ‘Freedom’.

Writing gave me the platform to be anywhere in the world. Create a character or numerous characters that would captivate me and my readers. The most important factor of this journey is, allowing myself and others to experience the words written as one might watch a movie. Writing is my canvas, it has no limitations. Hence why I use the word freedom.

Thinking of a title for a story is my foundation. Then the first character, creating a character that will either be loved, or at times loathed, as I generally write horrors. When I think back on the question placed before me, I recall the first book I read, that changed my life. It was a book written by the Western author, Louise L’Amour. ‘Hondo’ I have read and reread that book several times. That was the beginning of my love for books.

I kept a journal in my teens, writing has always been a passion. I wrote the most mundane things back then. This too was a building block that would eventually enable me to sit and write my first book. A book that had been dormant for almost twenty years. Circumstances and life didn’t give me the time nor the opportunity to sit and write. To be honest it was my death that brought life to my books. I would lie on my back and write, long hand. Those days I didn’t own a typewriter nor a laptop, or even a computer. These where alien to me. It was my loving daughter that bought me a Prime Book, I called ‘Baby’. That brought eighteen stories to life.

I still type with two fingers, don’t underestimate the speed at which these two fingers can type. I love it, I love being challenged. Writing is such a gift, I have written stories that played out all over the world. Yes, I did my research, this too was exciting. I have files upon files of research, on different places and cultures.

As I am sitting here typing, I can smile at the question, writing changed me in so many ways. For one it gave me a purpose, a will to fight the dreaded disease that plagues me. I get up and look over at my laptop, and I know, today I can fly……create and go places. With the click of a button I have been to Germany, Holland, Brazil, oh I enjoyed Brazil. I have written a story that played out in South Africa. This particular story was based on an elderly lady’s life story, it was an honour to write the book for her. Most of my books have a modicum of facts in it, be it a horror or a historical fiction.

I have never used myself as a character in any of my books. I don’t see the need to. The people I have met in my life are the subjects I used to create a character. Authenticity is very important to me. As much as we call our books, fiction, I know that in most of mine, I told someone else’s story through my own eyes. Albeit that some of my books are Supernatural, the characters’ fit the bill per se’.

Case in point, the day I took the first step on this journey that has spanned over many years, my life changed. I was challenged, I shall continue to challenge myself. That’s the thrill of writing. Words need not be cumbersome. Words are a powerful tool. I have a great respect for words, one of my past times is to read the dictionary. I say this in all honesty not in jest. Words are the delineate I use to bring a story to life.

In each story written I want the reader to experience the same emotions as I do. Be it of love or of loathing. I am Michael Angelo in front of a laptop, yes I have upgraded. I still need to find a rapport between myself and this device, this too is a challenge I take on with passion.

The sky is the limit, even further so, writing isn’t my comfort zone, it’s my teacher and at times my greatest critique. That’s the beauty of creating a new story, where would it play off? What new character will be born? Watching the character grow is exciting, as I don’t know at times what the next sentence will become.

From start to finish, I allow myself the freedom of expression, be it macabre, terrifying or a place I created for the story to play out. The hours I sit and write are the happiest I ever feel, until my foot goes numb and I know I need to take a walk. Here in front of the laptop, I am in the driver’s seat, I am in control. It’s enthralling, at times scary. I am not one that wants to fail at any task. The longer I have been writing, I have come to understand that the laptop is my friend. And I need to add, finding out for myself how to edit my own books, this too is a learning curve.

The question set before me, how did writing change the quality of my life? That’s an easy question to answer. It gave me life, possibilities, challenges and a way to change the world. I might have become a painter, who knows? I found my voice in my books. I found a reason to get up that might seem unimportant to others, to me it’s the corner stone of the rest of my life. My legacy written down, something I know I shall leave to my children, the day I am no longer here. As a matter of fact, writing is everything I want out of this life time.

The need to see my books in print is a lifelong dream, hearing comments from my readers is something I look forward to. I know it’s not all sunshine and roses, this shall not deter me. Not now, I guess not ever. I found my place in this world the day I wrote my first book. As much as I love words, and creating a book, I cannot find the words to describe in all honesty what it means to write. To sit dedicated to a book, for months on end. To push myself into situations and places I might never go in real life. Writing gives me this, the freedom to go anywhere at any time. Be it night or day. I can write well into the night, I enjoy the silence. This is my world within our world. It’s mostly stress-free, tomorrow the problems and the bills will still be there. I am a realist. When I sit here, I am free.

Writing gave me a platform unlike any other. To anyone out there that wants to write, my advice is, do it. Don’t dilly dally, set to task, be it in long hand or on a computer. Writing is a gift. Start today, I know from a personal point of view, that writing is powerful. The introduction to your book, lies in the foundation. The beauty of it is, I make notes and stick it all over my wall, until the wall can’t be seen, I might add. With each chapter written, not even I can foresee the outcome.

Writing enabled me to look within myself, in actual fact to look at people with new eyes, I perceive life differently, let’s say before I wrote my first book. Yes, I have accomplished many things in my life, not one as mesmerising as writing a book. Believe in yourself, first and foremost. No matter how long you wait to be discovered, there is someone out there in this wonderful world that will believe in you. This I can say with conviction. When I felt all might be lost, someone came into my life and changed it, once more. Gave me my self-respect back, even more so, gave me the courage to go even further on my journey. Believe, truly believe, and never give up hope.

A big thanks to Nikki Paiva for the words.