Why I Write Vol. 8: We Simply Use Our Voices

In this series, "Why I Write," members of the Grub community share what compels them to put words onto paper day after day. In this edition, Marjorie Turner Hollman on avoiding writing, until it became her outlet.


I avoided writing like the plague, much as I avoided working with children. My inner editor scolded me about my lack of writing skill. Groups of children would run around, away from, or on top of me. I ignored suggestions that I go into teaching. Writing wasn’t even a consideration.

And then I had kids myself. A slip of the tongue got me in front of my daughter’s kindergarten class (two classes, fifty children!) to tell them stories. A one-time event became a monthly gig. The kids treated me like a rock star. I soon plunged into the world of professional storytelling. Storytellers don’t have to write; we simply use our voices, right?

But life intervened in 1993. I was felled by a brain tumor; the surgery for its removal left my mind and voice intact, but my right side completely paralyzed. A single parent with two children to support, I had no plan B, C or even D. While I slowly (very slowly) healed from much of this paralysis, there was no return to the life I’d left behind.

In 1995, while struggling to control the seizures resulting from this brain surgery, I acquired a computer. Email arrived then in a small trickle. I wrote simple stories of the funny things that happened with my children and the neighbor children. And people wrote back, encouraging me to write more!

Writing had become my “storytelling” outlet. Knowing little about the craft of writing, I was given a chance. A kind editor for our local newspaper patiently guided me, published my work and pushed me to write more. I’ve written for other publications, but am indebted to this first editor who believed I could write, and was willing to push me to write better.


Marjorie Turner Hollman is a personal historian who loves the outdoors, and is the author of Easy Walks in Massachusetts, 2nd edition, and More Easy Walks in Massachusetts. She has been a freelance writer for numerous local, regional and national publications for the past 18 years, and is the New England Chair of the Association of Personal Historians. 

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