Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Guest Blogger: Cathy Astolfo on "Letter Lunacy"

Hi Folks,

Today I am very pleased to have Catherine (aw, c'mon, we're all friends here, so let's call her Cathy!) Astolfo as my guest blogger.  Cathy's post captures what I'm sure many (every?) writer feels about the act of writing... the good side of it, and why we do it.  Sure it can drive us crazy, and we have all stumbled over plot development and battled with writers' block, but we still sit down at the computers and write... Here's Cathy's take on why we do it:


I have an obsession. Okay, maybe more than one, but certainly my prime fixation is with letters and forming words.

Ever since I can remember, words have spilled out of me. In Grade Three, I used to write fairy tales for my classmates. The kind of story that, these days, would have caused a social worker to visit my mother. Blood thirsty and violent, just like all the other fairy tales I’d heard, with evil stepmothers and nasty beasts lurking to swallow up naughty children. In Grade Seven, my teacher actually threatened to give me the strap if I didn’t stop “wasting my time writing”. Even though I had my other work all completed (somewhat obsessively).

In secondary school and on to university, the letter lunacy stood me in good stead: I was always overflowing with things to say, especially in writing. Essays and arguments and dissertations all came naturally when I was allowed to paint them on paper. I truly loved getting an essay question on a test. Besides writing in school, and later on in my career, I write every day in my head. While I am driving, walking, exercising, or reading another book, I am contriving situations, describing scenery, or having a conversation with one of my characters. I cook my novels for months ahead of time.

My obsession is secretly all about one thing: the writing, followed by having people read it. I do have to write, just as I have to eat (and drink red wine). I would write whether or not anyone ever saw my collection of letters. But oh, the thrill of hearing someone say “I loved your book”, or “I laughed and I cried…” or “When’s the next book coming out?” cannot be adequately described. Your obsession suddenly becomes legitimate. You are not a lunatic after all.

Mark Twain said, “This (writing) is the love of your life. It's what I want to do when I wake up. Nothing feels so absorbing, so fulfilling.” Now imagine the love of your life getting recognition and appreciation from others. The proverbial icing on the cake, for sure. Running alongside my passion for words, the way my two cats race each other up and down the living-room, is the obsession with getting my books into print. Followed by marketing, publicity, posters, appearances…one addiction just piles on top of the next.

Evelyn Waugh said, “The art of writing, like the art of love, runs all the way from a kind of routine hard to distinguish from piling bricks to a kind of frenzy closely related to delirium tremens.” She is too right! Off I go – sticking to the routine so I can whirl around in a fit of passion.

Catherine (Cathy) Astolfo

The Emily Taylor Mysteries


Email Cathy at:  nvp@crimewriterscanada.com


  1. It sounds like Catherine was destined to write. I'm glad she kept wasting her time. :)

  2. I understand that point of view... thx for sharing, and good luck with you book.

  3. I can totally relate to Catherine/Cathy!

    Straight From Hel

  4. Oh man, that Evelyn Waugh quote is right on. About love AND writing!

  5. It's great to have friends who share your passion, Cathy & Jill.
    Let's keep the fun alive!
    Donna Carrick

  6. I'm glad Jill has brought back my favourite character, only redesigned for adult consumption with her "sexy Nancy Drew".