Oct 15, 2010

Friendly Friday - Robbin Peterson

My name is Robbin Peterson, and I want to thank Christine for inviting me. I think Friendly Fridays ROCK. A little about me: I have 4 young kids and I get to stay home with them while my husband runs a strawberry nursery. Aside from rushing kids around, and my constant battle with laundry, I play the viola in the local symphony here in California. But my greater passion is writing. I know this because I never find time to practice the viola, but manage to read a few books a month and write almost daily. I also think about my stories during rehearsals and concerts, and have been tempted to write ideas down on my sheets of music while the conductor is lecturing. I graduated from Utah State University in English Lit (and I never practiced the viola back then either.)

Aside from the hundreds of analytical feminist and Marxist and anything else “ist” essays I wrote in college, I didn’t decide to write for entertainment until a few years ago. It was a slow process for me to come to realize I wanted to, although looking back it seems an obvious decision. Through my last two year journey of writing conferences, informative books, and stories about other author’s lives I have felt the urge to ask: Why write?

That probably sounds like a strange question to ask, but really being a writer is not easy. It takes time, sacrifice, and a lot of inner discipline. It seems my motivation for writing varies hour by hour. So, how do people keep at it day in and day out? I asked some of my friends why they write. Here’s what they said:

Heather Justesen: “I started writing because I had this scenario in my head that wouldn't go away until I put it on paper. That's the key to why I write, an idea niggles at me until it becomes a plot and then I have to write it down before I lose it because it's crowding out other things in my life that I need to focus on… We all want to be recognized as having accomplished something good, especially when we've poured so much blood, sweat and arthritic fingers into a project. On the other hand, I don't write because I want recognition, I do it because I must, because something inside drives me to write and I honestly can't imagine NOT writing for more than a few weeks and still being happy.”

Tara Nielsen: “I think I write mostly because I have a constant dialogue running in my head - I'm wordy. I also enjoy stories that seem to evolve and flow through my mind from no where and love to put them down - though as a mother, I've found they tend to stay up in the attic of the brain instead of making it to paper. But the thing that motivates me to actually get it out of my head and down for others to read is my drive to help people understand things that make us human and how to overcome them.”

Kathleen Brebes: “Every time I read a wonderful book it makes me want to write something just like it. Plus, since I've been blogging, I've had several occasions when I've written something and someone has commented on how much they liked it.  If it was something I spent a lot of time and thought on and agreed it was good, then I truly felt excited that someone else read and learned from what I wrote. That feeling is very satisfying.”

I write to explore. I really don't know what I think or believe or value sometimes until I've written about it. My first passion in writing came through writing poetry. I love that I can only use a few words, so I have to choose my words precisely to convey the emotion and message I'm examining. As I search for just the right combination, my own insight folds open, petal by petal, feeding my intense curiosity. Words allow me to wonder.”

Bonnie Jensen (the best mom in the world): “I write because I HAVE to, I NEED to; there's always a story or a song or something that just has to be written down, and I can't rest until it does.  I believe that my mother is the same way-- she writes everything in journals and loves it.”

Nathan Peterson (my brother-in-law): “So far, the biggest motivation to write is having encouragement from others, especially my wife and kids. I tell the kids a bedtime story, either made up or about my childhood and it is such a good story that I have to tell my wife, and then she says, ‘You need to write that down.’ I love the feeling that I have the beginnings of a story that needs to be shared with others.”

As I read through my friend’s responses I loved their different writing styles. Isn’t that amazing? It seems there are as many writing styles as there are people. And each one touches us in a different way. We need writers. And I think the reason writers write can be summed up in one good book. After reading a good book it’s an emotional high—even if it was a bit of a depressing tale, ironically. Books connect us to people, help us understand the world around us, even understand ourselves. I can’t think of a greater high than actually writing a story that creates these feelings and ideas in others.

Even reading books out loud is a bonding experience with the people you’re reading with. I think of my husband encouraging me to read my novels for school out loud in the evenings to spend time together, things like Frankenstein, Dracula, and Like Water For Chocolate (Mind you, I didn’t go to BYU…) Those are some of my best memories of our first years together, and I came to know him in a way I wouldn’t have otherwise. 

I always feel closer to my kids after we’ve read a book we’ve laughed through. And if that story comes from me, it's even better. A child specialist spoke to a group of us and said our kids need us to read to them every night for security reasons. It helps them know the world is okay. (Just don't read them The Hunger Games. That might have the opposite effect… Unless they’re 16—even teenagers need to be read to.) 

So, what better reasons to keep on writing! Get those voices out of your head and make the world a better place!

***From Christine - Some of you might remember Robbin from the 2010 LDStorymakers. She took First Place in the First Chapter Contest in the category of General Fiction.WOOT!!  Thanks for being my guest Robbin. I love this post. It really made me think about why I write. For me it is a passion. After several years of being told by my father and other people who just didn't understand that I was foolish to chase such dreams, and believing them, I'm finally able to be ME. Coming to that realization is such a wonderful feeling. I've missed being me all these years.


  1. Robbin you are so cool! Great post and hey, that first quote is by an amazingly remarkable person. Everyone should definitely buy her books! =)

    Cute pic of you and your honey too. There's a kid out at the BK who reminds me so much of him as a teen.

  2. Robbin, this interview just reaffirmed my love for you. I cannot wait to have an autographed copy of your book. You also need to write a book using anecdotes from your daily life as you have the funniest husband and children.

  3. Great job, Robbin! You've really made me think and reach deeper into my life to identify reasons why I write. I feel some similarities to what other writers have expressed here, and as a result I've recalled times in my life where I've felt pushed, prompted, and impassioned to write--times I'd forgotten about. Those recollections have given me added confidence!

    One last thing. Where is your mom living now, and where is she from? Please send me an email. Was Jensen a second marriage for her?