Why I Write

February 8th, 2010

Publisher’s Weekly invited me to send them a few paragraphs on “Why I Write.”  That’s an impossible subject, of course!  I think that the article features several writers but I haven’t been able to access the rest of the issue.  Here’s the link to my little essay:

Browse all articles from February 2010

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34 Responses to “Why I Write”

  1. Suzan says:

    Would you please tell where you found that beautiful gold bracelet you have on in the picture on this site? Grazie!

  2. Suzan says:

    Would you please tell me whre you found the beautiful gold bracelt that you are wearing in the photo on this site. Thank you.

    • francesmayes says:

      Ah, a fashionista! Arezzo, near my hometown Cortona, is the gold capital of Italy, so gold is a beautiful craft in the area, and more affordable, too, than anywhere I’ve been. Cortona has several great, small shops and Ed bought the bracelet for me there for a big birthday. Another birthday gift was the necklace–and it was designed in North Carolina by Slane & Slane.

    • francesmayes says:

      Oops–reply is above. I’m still new at this!

  3. Jann Mumford says:

    Hi Frances,

    Maybe there will be a book for you to write about your Southern life experiences…….would love to read it! Will be receiving our oil in a few days,many thanks, Jann

  4. Francesca says:

    Dear Frances, when your last book, “Every day in Tuscany” will be translate in Italian language? I love Cortona and you books!

    • francesmayes says:

      Francesca, usually it takes a year for the translation. One thing I love about living in Italy is that I, too, get to be Francesca there!

  5. Dear Frances says:

    I had to laugh reading your comment about polishing your maryjanes with Vaseline. We used to put butter on ours before leaving for Sunday mass! – Fondly, Laurie

  6. Laurie says:

    Hi Frances,

    I had to laugh when I read your comment about putting vaseline on your marjanes. We put butter on ours before leaving for Sunday mass. I hadn’t thought about that in so many years.


  7. Darcie says:

    Hello Frances!
    I am so very happy to see you here! I just loved reading your first 2 books and will be reading this new one soon! After reading your books, I just knew that I was Italian through and through. I must have been in a past life or something! Your lifestyle is everything I have ever hoped for in mine. You inspire me in so many ways! Thanks for being you!

  8. John Biddiscombe says:

    Ciao Francis!

    So glad that you decided to start this blog, I have read most of your books over the last number of years and the study of Italy has become my favorite past time. My wife & I toured Italy for the first time last year for our 30th wedding anniversary. It was our first trip overseas and we absolutely fell in love with Italy.

    Looking forward to your new book as I had received an advance order for xmas.

    Do your book tours ever extend into Canada?

    Cheers from Canada,

    • francesmayes says:

      John, I wish I did travel to Canada more. This tour, I will be in Toronto in mid-April. The trip is not yet finalized but will be posted on the tour section of this website soon. Are you near there???

  9. veronica says:

    “Why I write”… Beautiful…

    In my case, writing came over as a means of conceptually shaping multi-sensation experiences, and therefore in some way indefinite experiences lacking definition, driving them into mental determination in order to rest from them. A sort of closure processing. This can be done in two ways: either by poetry into a little piece of art, or into prose, simply as a channel to download into paper what is though emotionally many times absolutely clear, it is not yet, cognitively organized.

  10. Jeff Minnich says:

    Thank you for starting your blog. I love it, and it inspired me to start my own gardening blog, finally. You are my favorite writer. I love Swan, so I would love to see another book written in that vein. Absolutely Southern.
    Can’t wait for the release of your new book…I’ve had it pre-ordered for months! Hopefully, I’ll be able to hear you speak again if you are in Wilmington, NC, or near Washington, DC (my home is in Arlington, VA). I’m one place or the other most of the time. I was fortunate to hear you speak twice at the Smithsonian.
    All the best,

  11. Dan G. says:

    “Who you are is where you are…” I see. Another way to look at this could be, “Where you are is where you want to be.” Is it necessary to physically be in a place, to allow it to shape your thoughts. I don’t think so. I use imagery and visualization to frequently return to and to revisit some of those places on my map that now have pins stuck in them and it makes me happy. Life does not permit me to enjoy the hot springs alongside Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica every year, but I go there every few months in my mind. And I have not hiked the gradually shrinking and decaying trail from Riomaggiore to Vernazza in 4 years, but I can still smell the flowers and taste the pesto and anchovies.

    I have read two of your books and have been meaning to write and thank you for the experience and escapism that was my experience in reading A Year In The World. Last year, when I was 31 years old, I was diagnosed with cancer and underwent 8 months of chemotherapy. Of the many side effects of the chemo and related drugs, my most despised reaction was that one of the drugs altered the nerves and taste buds on my tongue and in my mouth in such a way that all food tasted rotten and foul. Even a simple glass of water tasted dirty like old garbage had been soaking in it. This would last 4-6 days every time I got chemo. And during those times, I could not bear to eat anything. Instead, I kept your book in my sons bedroom. He was two years old, and each night that I would put him to bed, I would read him one of his stories, and then I would sit next to his bed and read pages from A Year in the World. My stomach would be growling because I never lost a sense of hunger, but putting real food in my mouth would make me gag. So I would read your detailed descriptions of meals in Valencia, Greece, Southern France, Napoli (oh the thought of a Margherita pizza when I was so hungry!) and for a time, I would be satisfied.

    To me, that is a reason to write. You never know how your words, released into the hands and day-to-day reality of an individual reader, will impact their lives. And truthfully, I would not have known how impactful that book could be without my disease. So, thank you for writing and for sharing your experiences. The escapism your words offered me each evening was one of the many positive factors I held onto that kept me going through each round of poison. I am better now and back to being me. I missed out on a whole year of traveling and look forward to making up lost time. Perhaps we will run into each other someday in Italy. We have a friend who operates two small hotels a bit north of Sienna and hope to visit him this summer. Ciao.

    • francesmayes says:

      Dan, what a journey you’ve been on. Thank you from the heart for writing me this response. I love each paragraph. Yes, see you in the piazza–the grand one in Siena or the small one in Cortona? All the best, Frances

  12. John says:

    Hello Frances,

    My wife & I live in Edmonton, which is in Western Canada. However, there are times when I do travel to Toronto for business, so maybe the timing will be good to catch your book tour. If you ever get the opportunity Western Canada is a beautiful place to visit.

  13. Gina says:

    [“Why I Write.” That’s an impossible subject,of course!]
    I agree! But I am glad you write.

  14. LuAnn Morgan says:

    Isn’t it amazing how writing gets into your blood and stays there! Whenever I think about doing something else, I begin to feel like I’m having a panic attack. Writing is, indeed, who I am and it grounds me.

  15. Michael McGuire says:

    Ms. Mayes,

    I am a fan of all of your work and was very excited to read this article about what got you started. Being in college, a student needs inspiration a few times a day! Thanks and I can’t wait for the book.


  16. Laura Adams says:

    I look forward to Reading your newest book.

  17. Suzan H says:


    I am so happy you write regardless of how you explain it. I have loved your books right from the start. I look forward to the new one.

  18. Joy Silverman says:

    I have so enjoyed all of your other books on travel in Tuscany. I can’t wait to return again. Thank you for your ability to be so descriptive that I can almost see it while I am reading.

  19. Lisa says:

    Dear Frances,
    I was just told 3 days ago that “Under The Tuscan Sun” was a memoir of yours, I wished I knew that. I had already fell in love with the movie, then I went to Italy before picking up my newly adopted Ethiopian daughter (Aug. 2008), but I have not been able to get Italy out of my head…truly it is all consuming. I was very happy to know that you wrote it as a memoir (I write as an outlet and have written since I was 9 with my diaries) as the little spare time I have, I choose to read non-fiction. (That may change once I read Swan though. I agree, the reason for the success of the book and movie is absolutely because many of us out there would like to do just that … take a risk of this nature. I’ve taken many and they have all paid great dividends.

    So finding out that your writings were memoirs, the library became my new companion where I checked out your books and devoured them yesterday. At the moment, I honestly do not know what to do with the conflicting of my emotions. I live in Denver, Colorado, but my heart is in Tuscany. I would like to blink my eyes and cross my arms across my chest a’la “I Dream of Jeanie” whilst creating a place where my two worlds converge into one. All I can do is attempt to create what I love so much about Italy into my existing life. I have 2 teen boys, one 3 yr old and 22 years of marriage to the love of my life. I couldn’t ask for more … but I want to!

    I am traveling to Italy in June for a month doing home exchanges with half a dozen Italians who are kind enough to allow me to stay in their homes and they in mine. From the Amalfi Coast through Tuscany to Venice, I will enjoy every step I walk and every minute I am there. My husband understands who I am and that we need to take care of our souls in order to be full and present in our ever busy lives that we all live. Thank you for your gift of writing and sharing it with us. Especially those of us who drink it in like mama’s homemade limoncello on a cool Summer night under the Tuscan Moon! (like I did in July of 2008 at Francesco’s Villa in Siena!)

    God bless us … who dream!

    • francesmayes says:

      What a terrific adventure you’re about to take. It will be fascinating to be in actual homes while the owners are in yours! Could be a book! Thanks for all the kind words and have fun–Frances

  20. Jeff Minnich says:

    Hi Frances,

    Blog address:

    Thanks for asking! Counting the days until your book arrives!

    All the best,

  21. leah Farr says:

    I am just starting to get into reading more as a grow, and you are one of the first authors I have come across I really truly like. Thanks for making reading fun!

  22. Jeff Minnich says:

    Hi Frances,


    Thanks for asking…enjoy your book tour!

    All the best,

  23. Linda says:

    I’m glad you write. Loved reading Under The Tuscan Sun and your attention to the meals and food made me try some Italian meals, they were delicious. Thanks for getting me to explore and enjoy Italian food.

  24. Julie C says:

    Very nice essay. I’m glad you write!

  25. Julie C says:

    Sorry if this turns into a double post.

    Just wanted to say that it’s a very nice essay and I’m glad you write. Have really enjoyed your books and look forward to more.

  26. Colleen says:

    Thank you and Ed for re-igniting my passion for all things Italian with your books. I have been in love with Italy and the language from a very young age and love Opera. I often laugh at you saying that it was a difficult language to learn with an old brain, as I decided to attend the Scuola Italiana del Capo at the age of 55! Autumn 2011 is when I plan to visit Tuscany, but am rather dissapointed, after exploring the Internet for accomodation, to see that all the B&B’s look like the B&B’s all over the world. Who needs a TV and a big swimming pool when there is so much to do, to see, to eat and to drink! What are the chances of finding a rustic farmhouse or villa to rent with all the old world charm? PS I have only read the first chapter of A year in the world, but am too scared to carry on, as I may want to go there too! Italy team is based in Cape Town for the World Cup and that is where I live. Ciao, Colleen

    • francesmayes says:

      Colleen, look into the Italian Agritourismo offerings on the web. And I think there’s a book too. These are working farms or country properties–sometimes close to town–and they are excellent choices. You meet families, sometimes can be involved with the farm, and generally they’re rustic and charming. Frances

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