Why Write About THEM?

Every now and then someone asks me, why do you write about people like that?

I ask,  people like what?

Well, these folks say, you seem like a pretty happy person, more or less, and you have a great marriage and you like where you live and you love your dog and you don’t worry about having enough to eat or your health, so why don’t you write about nice people?

Nice people? I ask (because although I know what they mean, I like to tease.)

Yes, I don’t like a lot of your characters, they’re too . . .

Messy? I ask.

Yes.  Messy.

homeless man with dog

I be the dog doesn’t mind if his friend is messy.

Ah.  Well, here’s a little secret: I’m messy.  I think most people are, even if some dress nicer than others and don’t have stains on their trousers, even if some live in fancy houses and not under bridges, even if some have never been to jail and don’t know how to make potato peel liquor in a toilet. And I kind of like messy people.  No, not kind of, I do like messy people.  Some of my best friends are messy and complicated and imperfect.  They’re my tribe, my family, my people.

I have a friend, Sister Rita.  She’s a member of the Sisters of Saint Joseph.  I once asked her why the order was dedicated to Joseph.  She laughed and said, because he’s not the main show.  She said the Sisters serve the ‘dear neighbor without distinction’ and do whatever is needed.  I bet they help a lot of messy people, like fallen women and sufferers from disease and tax collectors, you know, the people a certain carpenter from Galilee hung with and  fed with bread and fish and wine and . . .

Sometimes what I do with my stories is bear witness.  It might not be much, but my hope is twofold — that someone might recognize him or herself and not feel so alone, and that someone might just look at the next messy person they see with a little more compassion.

My new book — THE EMPTY ROOM — is about an alcoholic woman, and it goes on sale today.  I’m an alcoholic.  Some of my best friends are alcoholics — messy and complicated and broken people.  I love their stories, because every day one of them stays sober is a miracle, and I’ve grown to believe in such things, messy though they may be.




  1. Wendy on May 21, 2013 at 8:44 pm

    Some of the folks I most admire have been folks whose life has been more than challenging. Folks whose dreams have not come true for them and yet they continue to go forward in their lives no matter how difficult, adapting as best they can.

    Looking forward to reading The Empty Room.

    • Lauren B. Davis on May 21, 2013 at 8:53 pm

      Thanks, Wendy. I’m sure as a nurse you cared for many people others would have overlooked. Good on you.

  2. Helen Gillespie on May 22, 2013 at 4:53 pm

    Your stories do bear witness, and enable us to walk in the shoes of others who lead different lives from our own. Keep writing, and keep being as real as you are.
    Wishing you much success with The Empty Room — I’ve loved reading your other books, and this one sounds so intriguing I can’t wait to read it.

    • Lauren B. Davis on May 22, 2013 at 5:07 pm

      Thanks so much, Helen. I hope THE EMPTY ROOM pleases you.

  3. DAVID MENEAR on June 1, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    I don’t miss the point. Well said.

    • Lauren B. Davis on June 1, 2013 at 12:34 pm

      Thanks, David.

  4. Ron Davis on May 21, 2017 at 10:11 am

    Lauren, I can attest that your writing and the way you carry yourself day by day has helped me look at people with a more open mind, through which I’ve become a more compassionate person. Love, Ron

    • Lauren B. Davis on May 21, 2017 at 10:13 am

      Ah, my love. I adore you. You’re the kindest person I know.

Leave a Comment