Why Do You Write?

(C) 2020, JJ Shaun

As writers, we all want to write the next Great American Novel. But why? What made you realize that you wanted to be a writer? I can only answer for myself. I’m a life-long reader, even though I haven’t been as much of a reader lately as in the past.

When I was in the military, my ship spent enough time at sea that boredom was a constant battle among the crew. Television was only interesting for the first few days, then we were fed re-runs until we reached the next port. If we were lucky, we got new movies and shows. If not, well, we were out of luck until next time.

Because I was an Electronics Technician, I was assigned to a department full of nerds, some of whom had discovered Dungeons & Dragons. When we were deployed, a group of us found ourselves in the antenna shop spread out on the deck and repair benches with a pen, paper, and sourcebooks. I have long since lost the notes to those games. I somehow managed to hang onto the original printout of a story I wrote loosely based on our adventures during one such deployment.

I don’t remember the specific novels I was reading at the time (probably fantasy). But something about the books made me think that I could do that, too. So, I sat down at my “new” computer* and began typing. By the time I got distracted (SQUIRREL!), I had written the beginning of a novel, so I thought. That was decades ago, and I still think about those characters and that story. At one point about ten years ago, I sat down and worked on it. I moved the story along enough that I have something to work with, I think. I don’t remember exactly where I was going with it, but I have had new ideas infiltrate the original concepts. Someday, I’ll sit down and complete the story of Meegan Redoak, my half-elven ranger.

In the years since that first delve into writing, I have penned countless opinion pieces (while at university) and short stories. I find that writing helps me process my thoughts and feelings in a way reading did in the past. This blog is one way to focus on writing, so this keeps me on track, it also acts as a vehicle to improve my skills.

I also find that some of the stories and vignettes I’ve penned over the years are not as “stand-alone” as I initially thought. Some scenes are gravitating toward one project or another. It’s an exciting process as my mind begins weaving tales together.

As I move further away from the logical world of technical writing, I find that my creativity is coming alive in a way I haven’t felt since junior high school. When I was in high school, I discovered science and became enamored with the scope of things to learn. Everything fascinated me about science-y stuff. I loved learning how things worked. When I took the pre-enlistment tests, I was directed into electronics, and I was good at it.

Then I discovered the technical writing aspects and knew where I needed to put my energy. The joy of writing kept me going even after business hours. I could let the world inside my imagination loose. Over time, I got more satisfaction out of my creative writing than my technical writing. When my company was done with my expertise, I gladly transitioned into something more based on creativity than science. It was the change I didn’t know I needed.

That’s how I arrived at becoming a writer. What brings you to writing?

[*An Apple IIe clone that I picked up in Korea while deployed. It had two 5-¼” floppy drives, one for the operating system, the other to hold the data.]

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