The Telemachus Press Blog


I had endured a rather fitful night before the big event, for me, of my first book reading before a crowd.  At least I hoped someone would be there to hear about Our Millie and her adventures.  There were many emotional ups and downs that night.  Up because it was an honor to be asked to present my work, and Down because, well, suppose nobody came, or they yawned or walked out, or I couldn’t put two words together without pen and paper in front of me. Or horror of horrors, they didn’t like my work at all!  It is scary to put yourself out there when you are rather retiring and introverted about what you do.  Talk about being out of your comfort zone.

My inner dialogue began and I knew then that the only thing I could do was get up, brew a pot of coffee and start answering the questions in my head.

My inner Interviewer decided to use an old journalism trick to get me thinking.  Five W’s and an H.  I remembered that from a college class I took.  If you are after facts it works,  but since my mind runs more to fiction than fact I wasn’t sure how it would work.

Okay, here goes, I relented.

She began with WHO are you as a writer?

Umm, I thought.  I guess I am not myself.  I go into another place and time and enter the world of my characters.  They become my friends and neighbors and their lives take over anything that I am doing in the reality of the here and now.  I know them better than I know myself sometimes and find their lives much more interesting.  Perhaps I become my main character, Our Millie, telling the story and feeling good about the life she lived as she grew up.  Our Millie doesn’t have a bum knee or migraine headache.  She doesn’t worry about the national debt or the funny noise in the car, or what the kids are doing to mess up their lives.  And, neither do I when her words are popping into my head and escaping through my fingers onto the keyboard and appearing on the screen.  I find that I like who I am as a writer and that helps me like who I am as a person.

She wouldn’t stop there of course.  The next question was WHAT motivates you to write?

Wow.  I didn’t really think about that one.  What motivates me?  I don’t think I can not be motivated.  The stories are there and they insist on coming  out.  Of course, commercial success would be wonderful, but when I see a smile, or hear a laugh, or someone says “I remember that…”  it makes my heart feel so good that it is enough, at least for now.  The feedback from people the stories have touched in someway makes me want to keep writing.  Perhaps like an actor who needs applause, I thrive on the one word from my readers that says I made some small difference in their day.

She thought that sounded pretty good, but said I should get another cup of coffee and prepare for the next question.  Such a slave driver.  The next question followed closely the one about motivation and carried on the theme. WHY do I write?

The stories are there, I thought.  They need to come out.  Our Millie needs to be heard in her own voice.  She insists upon it and has chosen me to put her words into story form.  Why not write?  I couldn’t even think of the possibility that I would stop.  It is like reading, or talking, or breathing.  Writing has become such a part of my life that I don’t even think about it anymore. 

Okay, next?

My Interviewer was getting tired so she combined the next two.  WHERE and WHEN do you write?

I write wherever I have access to pen and paper or laptop.  Sometimes I even write in my head and transcribe it all later.  I write when the words come to me, whenever that is.  My first writing of the story Our Millie Leaves Home came to me at 2am.  She woke me with these words,  “Our Millie used to say that she lived in the hairy armpit of life….”  Where did that come from?  Maybe the chocolate cake I had at midnight wasn’t a good idea.  I tried to go back to sleep, but she persisted and her books began.  My usual place is on the sofa in the living room, jumping back and forth between paper and computer with my deaf Dalmatian and one-eyed cat nearby.

She seemed satisfied with that, but she insisted that all writers are asked one more question.  HOW do you write?

I have been asked this before, so I knew she was being sincere in her questioning.  How do I write?  I must be open to Our Millie’s voice.  That is the whole essence of the stories.  Our Millie is an Appalachian girl who loves blue-grass music so I put her music on and sometimes wear my plaid shirt and jeans.  I have a bottle of Yoo-Hoo chocolate drink handy and if she is being very stubborn I may have to don my old straw hat.  Sometimes she won’t talk and I just have to wait.  Other times I don’t need the props.  You never know with Our Millie.  I have notes for ideas she can talk about.  My friends and family are always asking “What would Our Millie say?” I just take the cap of the pen, get a fresh sheet of paper, fire up the lap-top and let it happen.

About Judy

Judy Allen

Judy Allen is the author of “Our Millie” and other random musings. She lives in Central Ohio with her semi-retired husband, deaf Dalmatian and one-eyed cat. Judy grew up on a farm in Southern Ohio, received her BSed, cum laude, from Ohio University and has many interests including sports, photography, animals, traveling, and observing life around her.
Posted in: Self-Publishing