Passionate Geeks is a monthly feature (the second Wednesday of the month), where I invite people to explore and share about those things that they are passionate about.
What kind of a Geek are you? (If you’d like to answer this question on this blog just let me know!)
This months Passionate Geek is Erica L. Bartlett. Erica is, among other things, an author and certified health coach. She has been published in magazines, and blogs about weight and food issues. When she’s not writing, she enjoys many other activities, including reading, cooking, baking, walking, hiking, traveling and visiting with family and friends.
I’ve loved stories for longer than I can remember. For instance, I’ve heard one of my favorite early childhood books was “Hands, Hands, Fingers, Thumb” by Al Perkins. I don’t remember this so can’t say why I loved it, but knowing this brought a smile to my face when I read the same book (literally – it had my scribbles in it) to my young nephew.
That ability to share and connect through stories is precisely what makes me passionate about them. I know stories come in many forms, but for the moment I’m sticking with the written word since I am, after all, a writer.
In fact, my very first writing was an attempt at reaching out, at sharing my loneliness and feelings of difference in the hopes that someone else who felt lonely and different might read it and be comforted. It was my way of wanting to return the favor, as it were, since that’s how I felt when reading many of my favorite books.
I empathized so much with Talia from the Heralds of Valdemar series by Mercedes Lackey. I knew what Jane Eyre meant about finding contentment when drawing her fanciful pictures and how they made her feel less alone. The treasured Serendipity books of my earlier childhood also featured many who were different and perhaps marginalized but who eventually found acceptance and love.
Reading gave me hope that somewhere out in the broader world I, too, would find acceptance, once I got old enough to leave my small town. Such hope was vital to me, as did knowing it had some basis in reality. If nothing else, I knew other people existed for whom writing was a burning need, and who enjoyed my preferred fantasy and sci-fi genres. I was also lucky to have found some of these people nearby in a small circle of friends my brother and I formed, those who would play D&D with us and would talk about paganism and environmentalism and world peace – but I wanted more.
All this remains a large part of why I love to write, or more specifically, why I love to write what I do. I try to focus on things that I know are part of the broader human experience but aren’t necessarily discussed as often. Hence my whole purpose in writing my memoir, Winning the Losing Battle: A True Story of Weight Loss and Transformation, about my journey with food and weight. I wanted to write the book I would have loved to read in my darker moments as an obese teen, something to let me know I wasn’t alone and that someone understood what I was going through. And now I want to write stories of grief and loss, how they shape us and even enrich us if we choose to let them.
I have also found other ways of sharing my stories: at my church, in poetry, and in blog posts. I don’t truly know how many people I’m reaching, but for me, for right now, it’s enough to have even a few folks tell me that reading or hearing what I’ve written has helped them. And just as I continue to write, so I continue to read, and find hope and healing and connection in the stories of others. I suspect it will always be a passion.