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Why do we write stories?

As most of you know, I'm in Florida helping my dad after my mother's death. We've been going through things, making surprising discovers like the hoard of silver coins mom had in the back of her filing cabinet.

In that same file drawer there was a folder with geneology information. And in that file, along with birth and death certificates, notes on ancestors, etc., was a manuscript of one of my stories, The House On Hudson Run.

I wrote this story back at Clarion West in 2004. It is about a woman who looses her mom and dad in an auto accident, and returns to the family home, full of grief and regret, to get it ready to sell. In the garden she finds a hidden labrynith. One stone has the name of her mother, one has the name of her grandmother.

It's about letting go of grief and embracing the joy of life. The entire thing is based on my life with my grandmother and mother. The house on Hudson Run is the house I always look back on as 'home'.

I sent it to my mother, because it dealt with my grandmother's death of Lou Gehrig's disease. Actually it deals with generations of women's pain. My mother read the story and called me. She said it was like I had been inside her head and heart, that I wrote her feelings with such perfect accuracy. She couldn't believe that I could capture her pain so well when I was only 9 years old when my grandmother died.

I never sold that story. I'd been thinking about pulling it out and reworking it again.

Finding the manuscript in my mother's files made me stop and think about why we write the stories we do. There is a lot of emphasis on sending them out to be published -- and I'm a huge proponant of that. That's a good thing. We spend so much time and energy on our work we should get it out there so other people can read them.

But that's not why we write the stories. We write because we have something inside us that really needs to be expressed, even if it never seems the inside of a magazine or book.

And maybe, just maybe, we write stories because there's someone else who needs to read it, to be moved by it, and to help a healing process.

I sent my mom most of my stories. Well, not my horror, but my spiritual (as opposed to religious) work. I wrote about my grandmother and her garden in another story which was published in After Hours many years ago. Mom didn't keep those manuscripts.

So am I going to rework The House On Hudson Run? I don't know. I sort of feel like it's fulfilled it's purpose. And yet it's against my nature to just let a story go without trying to make it better and get it out there. What do you all think?


Hi, Debbie.

It sounds like the story fulfilled *a* purpose. But do we really know if it fulfilled its *only* purpose? I don't think we can.
Send it out for publication. It may help someone else as it helped you and your mother.
Hi Nisi: Good thought. A story could have many purposes. I learned that from my tv days. You'd think I'd remember...
I agree with Erin. The story served it's purpose--it's NOBLEST purpose; but now it might be time for it to go out into the world to serve another purpose.
It does no one else any good sitting in your late mother's file cabinet. Set it loose, my dear. See what it can do.
Good luck.


Interesting question. I remember that story...

As a writer you have probably moved on beyond that phase, so stories you create now would arguably be stronger. I'm not calling it weak, but I'm guessing that you are a better writer now than you were 4 1/2 years ago.

However, if there is something personal in there that you feel like you need to say, it won't go away until you get that story out there. If that feeling is strong, I would go ahead and start editing. Otherwise your Muse is going to keep pestering you...

Re: Hummmm

I am a better writer. What I was thinking of doing was actually writing the story without looking at the old one -- you know, creating something new from the old. But the feelings may be just a little too raw right now. We picked up mom's ashes today. It was the hardest thing I've ever done.

August 2017

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