A question that inevitably comes up when one decides to become a writer is “why?” I have heard and seen many of my favorite authors get asked this question in various interview formats. It always amazes me how few of them have an answer to what seems like such an easy question. But then after many months of writing on my own, I mentioned that I was writing to my parents and I believe one of their first questions were “What made you decide to do that?” Suddenly that question became a difficult one.

When my parents asked me that question, they weren’t wondering about my sanity or thinking I was making a huge mistake. In fact, they were very excited for me. They just wanted to learn more about what could have caused the sudden interest to write a book when I had never shown much interest in doing so before. I believe my response was a grunt followed by “uh...” And then I tried to explain as best as I could what, to me, didn’t need to be explained. I don’t recall what I told them then nor do I think I’ve answered the question any more easily or more completely in the times it’s been posed to me since. So, I figured I would try here to explain why I write.

I just wanted to see if I could do it – A running joke I had with my family when growing up was “I could do that. I just don’t want to.” This would be in reference to many things from the relatively plausible to the most outrageous thing imaginable. Another part of the attitude is that I really believed I could do those things if I actually devoted myself to being successful at it.

The issue is that I’ve only cared about a handful of things strongly enough to warrant giving it that much of my attention. Writing became one of those things. And once I have it in my head I’m going to do something it’s hard to get me to change from that course.

After reading some of my favorite authors, I found myself fascinated that someone could create something so good and so real. I wondered if I could do it and what the final product would look like.

My first attempt wasn’t very good. It was about 10K words of random scenes with not much of a plot. After a few months of trying to piece things together, I scrapped everything except some of the names and two half scenes which were carried over into Rise and Fall. I realized then (thanks to some discussions with my wife Leah) that I was not an organic writer and I needed to have at least a loose outline to work from. Once I spent a couple of weeks fleshing things out into a rough outline, my next attempt was much better (at least structurally). That’s why the name of the blog is called “The Accidental Author.” I never intended to become a writer, nor did I intend for something I started on a whim to become one of the most important things in my life. It just kind of happened.

A vivid imagination – I’ve always had a hard time keeping my mind from wandering and day dreaming. Focusing on just one thing for me is very hard (even writing). At least part of this has to do with being diagnosed as ADHD.

I’ve wondered if that negative is also a positive, though, as those daydreams often lead to story ideas. I’ve discovered that writing allows me get some of those random thoughts and ideas out and onto paper. That doesn’t mean that I stop thinking about them. But it does mean that those thoughts are much more coherent and less random than before.

The desire to do something – Ever since I was young, I’ve always had a desire to do something important with my life. That didn’t necessarily mean that I had to become President or find the cure for cancer. I just wanted to achieve something that I felt may have a brief impact on others. Writing gives me the opportunity to provide a few hours of entertainment to someone and hopefully impact their lives in a positive way. If nothing else, hearing the positive response from my betareaders who have read my first book has made all the hard work worth it, even if no one else gives the story a chance. (Shameless plug: Rise and Fall is due to be available for purchase for your favorite e-reader by the end of 2011.)

Most of the pressure is on me – Being a writer is in many ways like running your own business. The pressure is on me to write a good story, to find a good editor, to find a good cover, to market it properly, and so on. Whether it succeeds or fails depends largely on my own effort and decisions (but also a lot of luck). This is much different than most jobs or even personal endeavors I’d been interested in before. In the sports that I played growing up, success was always dependent on other player’s abilities. In music, a successful band doesn’t have only one member (well, maybe if you’re Prince considering the guy plays 13 instruments).

With writing, if I don’t meet a deadline or produce a quality product, it’s more than likely because of me.

Once you start, it’s hard to stop – Watching a story unfold before your eyes, shaping characters into something personal and real, finding the right cadence to your prose, all becomes very addictive and is much different than reading someone else’s work. That doesn’t mean that it’s all fun because there are times that it’s not. But I think that holds true with anything in life.

Now that writing is part of who I am, I can’t imagine not doing it. I hope it stays that way because I have many stories left to tell.


2 Responses so far.

  1. Mike says:

    Awesome. I remember a long time ago we were talking about music as we usually do. Trivium, at the time, were working on The Crusade - that was their attempt to break it big and in doing so they made a conscious effort to change their sound. And you said, using Led Zeppelin as an example, that the people that make it big usually never had any intentions to make it big. The people who are the most creative never made a conscious effort to be creative - they just did what came naturally to them. If you try too hard to make it big or be creative or be different than what you inherently are, you will most likely fail at it.

    But anyway, I guess even if you can't fully explain why you write, it might be better that way. If you said, "I write cause I wanna be famous." or "I write cause I wanna be rich." I'd be kinda scared. You do it cause you wanna do it. Nuff said.

  2. Funny. I actually think I remember that conversation.

    And I agree. I definitely don't write because of those reasons. However, I definitely won't complain if a little wealth and notoriety comes my way. lol

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