Thursday, January 14, 2010

Guest Blogger, Dot Ryan

Dot Ryan, author of the historical novel "Corrigans’ Pool," is guest blogging today on Thoughts in Progress as a stop on her Virtual Book Tour this month.

 Dot has dropped by to talked to us about "if there is such a thing as a writing virus." First, Dot let me welcome you to Thoughts in Progress and give you my thanks for guest blogging today.

Now Dot, tell us why you think there is such a thing as a "writing virus."

I’ve often wondered if the incessant need to write novels comes in the form of a gene inherited from a ghostly ancestor or if at some point in our lives we writers picked up a writer bug, like one contracts the flu or a wart virus—I’m speaking of the kind of warts we kids got on our fingers after a frog peed on us.

An old wife’s tale? Maybe so, but the only wart I ever had in my entire life popped up on my thumb the day after a bull frog that my cousin and I had been passing back and forth emptied his little bladder in my hand before I could drop him. Soon afterward, my cousin ran home, the only thought in her head was what her mother had fixed for supper. I did the same, but the only thought in my head was to write a story about that frog peeing on my hand.

As to the inherited gene theory, my paternal great-grandfather wrote many Western novels and never attempted to publish even one of them! Legend has it that he wrote constantly and at great sacrifice to his chores around the ranch. 

Of course, we have only the passed-down testimony of long deceased relatives that Grandpa’s novels were exceptional and would have surely been best sellers … had not the whole passel of handwritten manuscripts been stolen from the sanitarium where he had gone to die of Tuberculosis long before I was born.

The story circulated among our family that his stories later appeared in paperbacks under another name. Oddly, not one of those old-timers could remember a single book title or the name of the author who had supposedly benefited from Grandpa’s creativity.       

The only way we’ll ever know if Great-grandpa wrote “exceptional” Western novels and if they were actually stolen from him … is if a great-grandchild of a sanitarium worker named Joe Blow steps forward and confesses that his great-grandfather, Joe Blow, stole my great-grandfather’s box of manuscripts from under his cot while he slept, plagiarized and published them, and became the famous Joe Blow of Western adventure paperbacks at the turn of the 19th century.

I can see a plot for a new novel evolving here! Feel free to write it, anyone—I’ve got too many stories swimming around in my head already.

Which brings me back to my original thought: Why do I and other fiction writers that I know always have their heads so full of imaginary people, places, and things? Do we long to be someone else living someplace else and doing heretofore unexperienced things? Why does almost everything we hear, see, taste or smell shift our brains into creative mode? Dust can fly off the drapes as we push them aside to let the sun in and right away we’re picturing the next scene in our current novel: The shutters were tightly drawn. Thin slivers of light floated through the cracks and painted the room with slat-like patterns of dust-flecked illumination. Ella stared vacantly at the dancing specks, her body stiff, wracked with pain, but unmoving. Etc….

“It ain’t normal to sit all day in front of a computer making up silly stuff,” a relative once drawled at me. Always striving to be polite, I gave him my Forrest Gump’s mother’s smile and replied, “Normal is as normal does.” I really wanted to glower at him and scream, “Ain’t normal? I’ll tell you what ain’t normal—going through your entire life without ever reading a book! That’s what ain’t normal!”

I’ve often said that my interest in writing novels grew from my love of history when, at a very young age, I learned that my Irish paternal great-great grandparents came to Texas from Pennsylvania in 1819 and to America much earlier. A short time later my maternal grandfather was born on an immigration ship in New York harbor. 

Stories passed down from generation to generation about the hazards they and others faced piqued my interest in American history even before I was old enough to read and write. Tales of adventure, hardships, outlaws, Civil War and its aftermath were soaked up by me, my siblings, and dozens of cousins on both sides of the family. Yet, this brings up the question again: Why was I the only one among my sibling and cousins to grow up with an insatiable desire to write?

Am I wrong in believing that my ancestors’ tales of life in a young America was the bug that bit me and gave me the writing virus? Or could it be that great-grandpa’s writing gene bypassed everybody but me?

I don’t know the answer. I only know that I love to write as much as I love to breathe clean air. And I finally got that relative to read a book—mine. He said Corrigans’ Pool was the best book he ever read. That’s understandable; in that it was the only book he’s ever read.

Thanks again Dot for stopping by and sharing this interesting story with us. I’m not sure if Dot will have a chance to stop back by today, but if you have any questions just leave them and I will make sure she gets them. Dot can also be found on the web at or on her blog tour at Pump Up Your Books.

Does anyone else have the writing virus?


  1. That's an interesting idea, Dot--I kind of ascribe to the random gene theory of writing. My grandmother and father both write, although they're not interested in writing fiction.

    Not reading a book *isn't* normal!

    Mystery Writing is Murder
    Mystery Lovers’ Kitchen

  2. Dot - Thanks for sharing your ideas, thoughts, and of course, your book : ). I don't know if writing is a "virus" or not. I know that a cousin of mine is also a writer, so maybe it is in families...

    But I agree with Elizabeth - Not reading *isn't* normal.

  3. I think I have the writer virus, too. But I don't recall being peed on by a frog. Ever. Must be another source.

  4. "Does anyone else have the writing virus?"

    Oooh yeah - got it BAD, lol. Really enjoyed your guest post. I have great respect for historical fiction writers - the research you have to do - it's daunting to me. Best wishes for your book(s) and career, Dot!

    The Old Silly

  5. Hello! Thanks for your interest and comments. I will be visiting this great site off and on all day and will be happy to reply to any and all questions.


  6. Wonderful post. And interesting concept - I never thought of the urge to write as a virus! Since noone in my family was a writer, it can't be genetics for me, so maybe a virus caused me to be one. I've always thought of my urge to write more in terms of "I can't not write," but who knows!

  7. Great post :)

    No one else in my family has ever had the writing bug. I do have a few readers, but not many. I've always been a little different, but that's okay!

  8. Dot, thank you so much for stopping by today and sharing this interesting information with us. I'd have to say I don't have the "writing virus," but I do enjoy trying my hand at it from time to time.

    Thanks to everyone else for stopping by today too. I've had to be away most of the day and I'm just now getting back in. Hope everyone had a great day.


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.