On Writing

If you read this, chances are you're one of the following: a fan of my books; someone who knows me who is wondering if I've gone completely batty (don't worry--that's already happened); or a writer wondering why in the world you haven't been published while I continue to be. For those interested in my books and my writing, this post might interest you. 

The question is posed to me often: why write? That's such a basic question that really cannot be answered. I can say "because I have to", but that still doesn't answer the question. 

But I'll share this. Every book I've written is a part of me. "Duh, Travis. That's such a writer cliche." Maybe it is, but I don't think all authors are this way. Some authors come up with a story and tell it. Just like that. They tell the story in their voice and in their worldview, but they don't put themselves in it. It's just another story. But for me, every story is something that is deeply personal and that gives a glimpse of where I'm standing at the moment I'm writing it. 

And no, it doesn't mean that every main character is me in some form or another. It's natural for that to be the case, and in many of my books, I will admit that a lot of me shows up on the pages. But it's more than that. It's my attitude and my outlook that shows up. 

The Promise Remains, my first published novel, is sweet and naieve. I don't think I could write that book in that way. It seems like another person wrote that, someone who was probably sweeter and more naieve. 

The Watermark deals with guilt, much the way I was dealing with it at the time. The story is all made up. Someone recently asked me I played the piano (just like Sheridan does). No, not really. But Sheridan was and is me in many ways. But a younger me. 

The book that's coming out this fall--Isolation--deals with anger at God. Was I angry at God when I wrote it? Yes. And I was humbled too. And the characters in the book (not fictionalized versions of me, mind you) go through a journey of being angry at God and then being humbled at his power and grace. 

See--the story does matter. And your voice and worldview are what makes it uniquely you. But for me, it's also a document of where I'm at when I'm writing it. Either newly married (Three Roads Home) or jaded by the corporate life (Sky Blue) or detailing my college experience (Admission)--all of these are snapshots of myself in some way. 

Perhaps that's egotistical. But I always say every author has to be somewhat egotistical to believe he or she has anything unique to say after everything's been said. 

Every book I write is a part of me. My joy, my faith, my flaws, my attitude, my struggles, my hopes--these can all go into the story. Sometimes it works well and sometimes it doesn't. But I write because I need to, because I want to, and because I still feel like I can tell a story in a cool, unique way. 

Sometimes when life is intense, a story can be intense too. Sometimes, like in the case of a recent work of mine, when life is somewhat floundering, the story can flounder too. That is the beauty of art. It reflects the creator. You can paint a portrait that is flawed and fragile but that is uniquely YOU. Some artists don't want to go down that path, because it can be pretty bumpy. But it's the path I go down time after time. 

And it will be the path I keep taking. It's not a perfect path--I doubt it'll ever be an interstate that millions travel on mindlessly every day. But for those that venture down the road--my hope is that they'll enjoy the journey, which will have surprising turns and bumpy patches and will hopefully be memorable.