So–this is a motivational discussion?

Talent is nice. Language skills are nice. But, for a writer, I think it’s MOTIVATION that’s indispensable.

I’d enjoyed writing since beginning school, had been editor of a college newspaper, and donated articles here and there,  but I didn’t get going, motivation-wise, until coming to Spring Hollow in the Arkansas Ozarks. That kicked me into writing for publication. I loved this place. Why couldn’t I share it with others who would never see it?

After John and I bought the land at Spring Hollow, ideas for sharing information, inspiration, and stories began bubbling inside me, then popping out on paper. (This was in pre-computer days, unless you’re talking about air-conditioned rooms full of huge beige boxes humming in the basement of the office building where I worked.)

What about you who are reading this? Each writer, each creator, has a somewhat similar story, I imagine. Don’t you know of something in your life that has given you motivation and said: “It’s time to ACT?”

Motivation is not a one-time thing. It has to have enough steam to keep you going through problems, discouragement, set-backs, and outright rejection, whether you’re writing a magazine article, writing a novel, or starting up a new business featuring your own ideas.

Simply said, Spring Hollow helped me learn what Sense of Place means, and I wanted to share that. The rural Ozarks area is beautiful of course. Sometimes I find it so beautiful I can’t take it all in. But, since our own area, even back at the beginning, was rapidly becoming suburban, I realized Spring Hollow as I knew it initially, was doomed. If I wanted to keep this forested landscape and all the varied species of animals and birds that lived here alive,  even in memory, I needed to preserve their stories on paper.

It became a writing challenge to find out if I could construct Spring Hollow in words, and share it with others that way. I believe writing what our senses tell us about a place is better than pictures or virtual reality, because we convey more than sight or sound. We open doors for the reader by allowing him or her to bring their own individual perceptions and experiences into what we share, making the sharing much richer.

The challenge was and is:  Can I be so accurate and honest that what a reader brings to my writing will enhance what I want to give life to in magazines, newspapers, or book pages?

Experience has now told me I have had some success in this. Whether I am writing truth about Spring Hollow (as recorded in my collected essays in DEAR EARTH: A Love Letter from Spring Hollow), or re-creating loved Arkansas areas accurately as a background for fiction (the TO DIE FOR mystery series featuring senior detectives Carrie McCrite and Henry King), people seem to enjoy visits here. Indeed, I hear reports of people coming to Arkansas at least partly because they want to experience in person what I have shared on paper, (or now, in e-books). From the beginning I learned that my experiences here translated happily into the lives of readers, not only in the United States and other English-speaking countries, but in Germany and China as well.

How do I feel about that?  Guess you could call it motivation satisfaction.

So–what motivates you?  Right! Carry on!


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7 Responses to “So–this is a motivational discussion?”

  1. radine Says:

    Hope you’ll bring your own motivation experiences to this discussion!

  2. Sunny Frazier Says:

    I’m also motivated by my environment. While others dis the San Joaquin Valley and deny its beauty, I see much potential. It’s not an easy area to love, so that makes it a challenge as a setting. I try to bring in the agriculture, the many cultures and variety of peoples, and crimes which seem more personal since we aren’t urban.

    Trying to put across why an author loves their setting and convince readers to love it as well is a huge motivation for me. All of my books and short stories take place in this part of California. Few others are bothering to set mysteries in this locale, so the handful that do have cornered the market. We are the OTHER California!

  3. Marja McGraw Says:

    I set my stories in Los Angeles because it’s so big — a great place in which to lose yourself. “Stuff” happens every single day in California. However, I’ve started setting the stage so my characters can visit Arizona and Nevada, too. A lot can happen on a vacation, or a business trip, or even when you’re visiting a relative. In all honesty, I think everyplace I’ve lived and each place I’ve visited motivates me.

    Wonderful post, and you really made me stop and think about areas of interest which motivate me and my writing.

  4. Patricia Gligor Says:

    Remember the television show “If Walls Could Talk”? I love old buildings, especially old houses; they have so much character and history.
    So, when I went for a walk one day, several years ago, and spotted an old Victorian, my mind immediately asked the question: What wonderful secrets would those walls reveal – if they could talk? That was the beginning of my motivation to write “Mixed Messages,” the first novel in my Malone Mystery series.
    Ideas for characters and plots came next and continue to accumulate. They keep me busy and motivated.

  5. radine Says:

    Marja, I can add LA to my list of places in California that I’m not familiar with. And, you know what, I’d bet I can see and feel it better in a novel than from all the depiction on TV news!

    Patricia, I love the old house idea. Motivation from a building is a terrific idea.

  6. Amy Reade Says:


    Thanks for the thought-provoking words. My first novel takes place in the Thousand Island area of New York, where I grew up. It’s so beautiful that finding words to do it justice can be a challenge. When you know of a magnificent place like that, you have to share it! And I agree with Patricia’s comment about old buildings. I live near Cape May, NJ, and I would love to hear some of the stories those walls could tell! Happy New Year!

    • radine Says:

      Amy, I love your comments about the Thousand Island area of NY, which is another place totally unknown to me. In fact, I am enjoying all the comments here and can see there are a LOT more books I want to read that share places as well as stories. Thanks for this.

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