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Friday, June 21, 2013

Guest Post from Boomer Lit Author Marsha Roberts

Who Do We Write For? Ourselves or Others?

The two-fold question I've heard posed over and over again by authors on the web is: why do we write and who are we writing for? Are we writing because we're compelled to, whether anyone ever reads it or not? Or are we focused on an unseen audience of potential readers?

Obviously a question authors have always asked, but now it's different. Now we don't have to go through the gate-keepers of the publishing world and ask permission to play. All you need is a computer with internet access and you can write to your heart's content - write and be published. And that's what makes this question different than it's ever been. It's no longer reserved for the elite few chosen by agents and publishers. Everyone who sits down to post a comment, write an article, compose a blog or author a book is faced with this question - whether they realize it or not.

Why do you write? Who are you writing for?

We all know people who blog regularly that literally don't care if anyone else reads it, they just want to write! On the other hand, tens of thousands of books are given away every day because some authors are so intent on communicating their story to other people that they're happy to get it into a reader's hand even if they don't make a cent from their efforts.

We all have our own answer to the "why and who" question - here's mine.

I wrote my book because a voice was screaming inside of me: WRITE! Once I started, I couldn't stop. What a wonderful (and terrifying!) thing to discover at this phase of my Boomer existence: I'm a writer. As long as I'm allowed to continue breathing on this planet, I'll write. Proof positive? I'm writing this blog right now!

The real question for me is: would I have written my first book if I didn't think anyone else would ever read it? Yes. I had to write it.

So, was I writing it for myself? No. I was writing for others, especially other Boomer women who I thought might benefit from what I had experienced (and enjoy a good read at the same time!). That's what motivated me, what kept me at it day after day.

The fact is, I was writing because I missed touching other people's lives.

We all have a history that brings us to our computers every day with a story to tell. As a professional I went from being an ICU nurse (definitely touching lives there) to a documentary film editor (wild life films - people loved them!) to theatrical producer. That's where I got hooked on reaching out to an audience and seeing my work affect lives. I did that all over the world for fifteen years and when I had to walk away from it, the thing I missed the most was… yeah, there it is… touching other people's lives.

That's true, no doubt about it, but I've grown to understand that there's more to it for me.

Recently I ran into some personal snags, the kind that are always unexpected. I was sitting at my computer, staring out the window at the leaves blowing in the wind, contemplating my situation, emotionally exhausted. Then I saw a reflection in the window of something very comforting: a copy of my book. I opened it to a random spot and started reading. The words on the page instantly connected me to who I am and where I intend to go with my life. My own words touched me. I smiled as the cloud over my head lifted and I realized I was my own audience. I may have written it for others, but I had also written it for myself. And at just the right moment, it was there to remind me who I am.

I'm a writer. God help me!

About the Author

After years of producing Corporate Theatre for clients such as IBM and Coca-Cola, Marsha Roberts developed, produced and marketed Letters From The Front, the only professional theatrical production to tour military bases around the world. This heartfelt show touched hundreds of thousands of lives and toured stateside and abroad for fifteen years. The daunting process of getting this never-been-done-before production off the ground and onto a worldwide stage gave her a keen awareness of what it takes to overcome life’s obstacles and find the miraculous in the commonplace.

Her debut inspirational memoir, Confessions of an Instinctively Mutinous Baby Boomer and her Parable of the Tomato Plant, chronicles many of these experiences in what Kirkus Reviews called, "An optimistic look at the magic of life."

Marsha is happy to be known as the Mutinous Boomer and is currently writing her second book in that series.

Connect with Marsha


  1. Your book certainly touched my life. Thank you for reaching out to share what's inside, for writing.

  2. Thanks so much Beth. It means everything to hear that!

  3. I truly enjoyed reading your post. I became a writer about ten years ago after teaching for 30 years, so ,yes, I am also a boomer. I felt compelled to write and wanted to become a published writer so I could entertain and inspire others.
    Thanks for sharing your reasons for writing.

  4. Thanks so much, Rosemary. The words "compelled to write" seem to come up a lot! I appreciate you sharing back and best of luck to you with your work.

  5. Your post was impressively cogent, Marsha, and I've read quite a few others that have also tried to explain why some of us are so "compelled to write."
    I Tweeted your post and also put it on my Facebook page at Kay Kendall Author. A man from India who now works in England posted that he liked your blog writing. Isn't that something? This is what social media is all about, and it certainly lets us COMPELLED writers connect to others, even if we are not (yet) published by the likes of Doubleday.

    Write on! (and as a boomer you know that I mean that in both senses)

  6. Kay, thanks so very much for posting my blog! I'll definitely check it out. I've actually had quite a few people from the UK contact me and let me know they had purchased my book through and how much they liked it. This new digital world can be frustrating, but it is also extraordinary in its reach! And, yes, I know exactly what you mean when you say "Write on!" A new meaning now for us Boomer writers! Cheers!

  7. Marsha, I'm sorry I'm coming late to your wonderful blog post: Internet certainly does connect us all but sometimes it plays tricks on us! For some reason, a great deal of stuff I love to read ended up in my spam box...

    And most definitely, this is NOT spam. I love getting this additional peek into your writing life, for indeed you are a writer even if you came late to it. But what an effective, inspirational pen you've got! It all goes to show that it's never too late, a boomer author will always come up on top and prove to the publishing industry that is always looking for "fresh new talent" that it can also be found among more mature people...You don't need to be in your 20s or 30s to make it!

    Yes, write on and cheers!

  8. Always terrific to read your comments, Claude! Words flow from you so easily - your years of writing professionally have paid off big time! I also want to congratulate you on winning the Agent Read contest in Modern Good Reads! The writer who is the very definition of a Boomer Lit author will represent us all. Congrats and best wishes for a good agent to snap you up. He'd be a smart man to do so! Cheers to YOU!

  9. Great post. Very thought provoking.

    I am a nurse and eldercare expert who only started writing because chronic illness stole my life as I knew it and I didn't want to give up the work I love.

    God put my latest and only print book and title on my heart in the middle of a funeral...Behind the Old Face.
    I wrote it for God. I wrote it for every senior who has been disrespected, disregarded, neglected, or abused.
    I wrote it for all of us Baby Boomers who are headed into a crisis because care will be unaffordable and I wanted to share a better future for aging. I wrote it for every care provider so they understand there is more behind the old face. I think I also wrote it for me. I needed to put in words what 30+ years caring and advocating for seniors has taught me, and writing saved me from giving up my life to chronic illness.
    Writing gave me back excitement after a 5 year battle to be diagnosed with Sjogren's and Chronic Fatigue Syndromes. It replaced the grief that comes with permanently losing my health and knowing I can still help seniors and families.