Alexis got in touch with me after learning about our series on Twitter, and can I just say, I found that really exciting. Thanks so much for jumping in with us, Alexis! It’s all yours…
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A long time ago, poets were so revered, it was said no one should cross them. This is because words create reality – and it is impossible to kill an idea. Once a poet unleashed his or her words, there was no taking them back. This is the power of voice – and of the pen.
When I started writing, I didn’t know what I was doing. I had an idea that had been bouncing around my skull for maybe a decade and no more excuses. I was unemployed, alone in a dark apartment. So I sat in front of my laptop and started typing. I worked for fifteen hours straight. I slept. I wrote another fifteen hours. I only got up to pee and sometimes eat. At the end of the week I had my first novel, THE BROTHERS.
Writing has always been something I’ve done, but I didn’t understand why I write until maybe my third book. I thought I was writing the books I wanted to read. In the case of THE ROLLINS PACK series, I wanted to write about werewolves – because I was tired of sparkly vamps. I ended up writing about families, reproductive justice, and gender power dynamics.
What the hell?! I found myself re-reading the books and trying to figure out what happened.
I even tried to write a “sell-out” book – a stand-alone sci-fi pulp piece for women. It’s still as popular as any of my other work. Still, it ended up with themes of consent and social revolution.
I guess I was slow when it came to understanding my fiction writing. I get my nonfiction – it’s obvious. I write it because I needed to tell people about x, y, and z. But fiction? I would start with a pulpy plan and in the course of revelation, the story would take a sharp turn into social commentary.
The glory of fantasy and sci-fi is its power to remove a reader from their context. Some might say this is escapism, and that may be true sometimes. But the truth is fantasy and science-fiction are so much more than escapism. By removing readers from their context, writers can talk about anything. Suddenly they can raise questions about technological innovation, about the nature of consciousness, of what it means to be human. Suddenly they can talk about the ugly parts of humanity – of gender roles or cultural dynamics – with impunity. And since they do this in stories, writers leave an impression. People remember stories.
Fantasy and sci-fi writers can churn out fun escapes, but they are just as likely prophets, teachers, and warriors. Fiction writers are the leading edge of human thought, pushing everyone forward, driving everyone to evolve – to actualize their humanity.
It sounds glorious when I write it like that. But it’s not. It’s not like that at all. It is full of doubt and sacrifice, sweat and tears. But I have to write. Writing is a compulsion, otherwise I would not choose this path.
I don’t know how far my words reach. I have no idea what ripples they create. What I do know, is that I write to make ripples, however small or big they may be. I can’t not. I’ve tried.
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About Alexis Donkin
Alexis Donkin lives in Southern California with her family and real life familiar. She has lived many places and studied many things. She paints, sings, and dances when she’s not writing or speaking. Be sure to connect with her and check out her fiction at http://alexisdonkin.com.
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Want In On This?
Are you a writer? Whether you’re just starting out or an old hat; unpublished, indie published, or traditionally published- we want to hear from you!
To participate in our guest series, simply write us a blog post that answers the question “Why I Write What I Write”. It can be as long or as short as you want- we’re playing it pretty fast and loose.
Please send your posts to firstname.lastname@example.org, with “Why I Write What I Write” in the subject heading (please include any author links/pics you would like in the post). The posts will be scheduled as they come in, with one post going up each Monday, and we’ll all publicize the hell out of them on FB and Twitter.
Can’t wait to hear from you!