At some time or another, most writers try to answer the question, “Why do you write?” The list of answers quickly falls into a few well-worn slots. Some will say they have written all their life, as if that is an explanation. Others will say they have a story to tell. A few make it seem like writing is a compulsion; 'I have to write,' they say. Only a small percentage will say they write because they love writing and an even smaller percentage will say they write because it pays the bills.

In my business career, I have a long list of articles published in professional journals and trade publications. I have lost count of the number of manuals and chapters I have written, or the number of workshops and speeches I have given.

In the last 18 years, I have written at least one book a year. To date, I have self-published ten novels, two business books, two anthologies of short stories and a memoir written by other authors. I have a dozen short stories and poems published in books and stories and photos published in local newspapers. I have two 10-minute plays that have been produced. In addition, I have this blog. 

These accomplishments should make it clear that I write and have done so for a long time, but that isn’t an explanation, merely a description of my behavior. Likewise, I could mention that I am a reader and have been ever since the seventh grade, or that I have taken photographs ever since I was given my first 35 mm camera, but let’s not get off the topic.

In the eighth grade I wrote a short story that was selected by my teacher and submitted to a newspaper contest. I am not sure if I won, I think my story was named as the third place winner. Still quite an honor, but it is important to mention my dad helped me write and type the story, and dad was the Feature Editor of the paper holding the contest.

Today, I have no idea what the story was about. All I remember was my teacher, Mister Amberg asking why I have written the last line in the story; something about a row of birds on a telephone line. Still today, I have no answer.

In the twenty years between 1963 and 1983, I discovered the pen and yellow writing tablet were my enemies. Even the typewriter was a barrier. I wrote nothing of consequence except my thesis and dissertation.

My writing career actually began when I had a computer with word processing and spell and grammar checking. The personal computer, MS Word, and a good spell checking / grammar program gradually changed my life along with the rest of the world.

As a university professor, I used the computer to write notes, presentations, and speeches. Then I was hired in a consulting position where I was expected to write training manuals and workshop materials. Eventually a client asked me to write business articles for a trade publication. Having the right tools and having someone who wanted to publish my writing made a heck of a difference, but that still doesn’t explain writing fourteen books or publishing ten.

In 2004, a week before Thanksgiving, I sat down and wrote the opening scene to a fantasy that I had running around in my head. How do you kill a wizard, I wondered? The next day I learned about the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo).

This online event challenged writers to write a 50,000 word novel (first draft) in thirty days. Loving a challenge and having written 500 words already, I began To the Western Border. Fifteen days later I had written 62,000 words and had the start of my first book.

NaNoWriMo was and is an important part of the story, but, still, I wasn’t hooked. I merely had the taste of the bait in my mouth. What I discovered was I loved the freedom of writing a story out of whole cloth. I was amazed by the way the characters came to life and seemed to take over the story. Moreover, I was in the 20% who actually wrote 50,000 words; I was a winner.

Seven years and many rewrites later, I took the next major step in the process and self-published To the Western Border. A year later I published two books: Bullseye, a novel of murder and suspense and Finding the Right Path, my first business book. That was in 2011, and I was hooked. Writing and publishing had become a part of the my life.

Now I live in California and am partially retired. Most days, I get up at six in the morning and work on my blog for an hour or two. Then I will work on my current novel for the rest of the morning, editing and rewriting. Some days I will return to the novel in the afternoon or I if there is an anthology or contest I am interested in submitting to, I will write a short story.

In trying to answer the question why do you write, I think the best answer is I write because I have in the past. Writing has become a habit. I have the tools I need. I have the motivation, and occasionally I am recognized and rewarded. As a Behavioral Psychologist, I’d say I write because my behavior of writing was reinforced in the past. Descriptive but hardly an explanation.

If I had to go deeper than that, I believe I have a need to be creative. Perhaps it is in my genes. It might be that early on, I was reinforced by the engaging in the creative process.

Teaching, advising people, making presentations, and giving workshops were the ways I made my living. At times creative, but ephemeral, and often repetitive. At home, I love to watch old movies and TV, read, and listen to music, but these activities only provide for one creative outlet; talking about what I have seen or heard. 

I find writing, blogging, taking photographs, painting watercolors, creating graphic design, and even computer programming to be more creative, perhaps because they leave a lasting product.  Something one can revisit. Someday I hope to add playwriting or screenplays to my list of accomplishments. If I could remember my lines, play a musical instrument, or sing on key, I’d add actor and singer songwriter.

I write because I can. I don’t have a story to tell or any demons to exorcise. I am not driven to write and I don't expect to get rich. If there was something more creative I could do with my time or with my life, I would do that. Until then, I will write and take photographs.


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