Why I Write

Why I Write – Michelle Cook

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I’m very excited today to welcome fellow Darkstroke author, Michelle Cook to my blog. Read on to discover what compels Michelle to write.

Thank you so much for having me, Jo. I’m feeling philosophical these days so the subject of why I write is perfect for the moment!

I’ll be honest. When I started out this time, I didn’t think it would go anywhere. They never had before, my ill-fated attempts to write a novel. Nonetheless, two years ago my family was going through a stressful time and I decided inventing a story would be a peaceful escape.

As strategies go, not one of my best.

Let me say first, I love writing. Love it like nothing else. I adore words used to draw images in other minds’ eyes. Making readers love or hate or pity or envy my non-existent person. I create these characters and make them dance for me. Bit of a control freak, I guess. In my defence, I’m as enthusiastic a manipulated reader as Machiavellian writer.

Writing is a wonderful thing, but stress-free it is not. For me, it is perhaps one of the biggest challenges, alongside raising children and almost as exasperating and rewarding. On and off, it’s been a vague idea all my life that I should stop with the tinkering and write a book. In harried middle age, I’ve attacked it with more gusto than I anticipated-attending courses; subscribing to writers magazines and groups; participating in hours of critiquing and being critiqued; studying grammar, story structure and technique; researching such subjects as single atom nickel catalysts, eye injuries, and sunset times in the 2040s. I can’t get enough.

Mary Gaitskill said, with disarming honesty, one of the early reasons she wrote was to feel important; a belief she had something to say people should hear. I hesitate to admit I identify. My loved ones are used to my pontificating—making connections between events and concepts, and laying it out to anyone who’ll listen and those who won’t but happen to be in my line of sight. I find ideas hard to let go when they occur to me, and so I’m compelled to write them down to spend that passion. People who know me sometimes say I should be in politics. In truth, I’d be awful. I’m not much of an orator and couldn’t remove my heart from my sleeve long enough to win a vote. Maybe I’d be a decent politician if I could mail it in.

When I write, I suppose I’m trying to figure out the world, to look for patterns in the everyday that answer bigger questions. Like how personal kindnesses translate into global indifference to suffering. Or how our competitive drive plays into human need for society and cooperation. And to what extent are these traits innate or conditioned?

And if I think I’ve discovered one of those big pictures, then comes the work of making it small again. Painting characters and situations inside to make it vivid and relatable. In that process, I often find themes drop out I’m not aware I was pondering. In my first novel Tipping Point, I knew I wanted to write an adventure exploring grief, resilience and justice. The theme that became more or less central to the story—that of climate change—took me completely by surprise.

So much for writing as a means of control, huh?


About the Author:

Michelle Cook writes thrillers and dystopian fiction. She lives in Worcestershire, UK with her husband, their two young children, and a cat called Lyra Belacqua.

Her first joyful steps into creative writing were at the age of ten, when the teacher read out her short story in class. A slapstick tale of two talking kangaroos breaking out of a zoo, the work was sadly lost to history. Still, Michelle never forgot the buzz of others enjoying her words.

More recently, she has had several flash pieces published, was long-listed for the Cambridge 2020 prize for flash fiction, and placed first in the February 2020 Writers’ Forum competition with her short story The Truth About Cherry House.

Tipping Point is her debut novel.

Social Media Link: https://linktr.ee/michellecookwriter

Buy Link: mybook.to/tippingpoint

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