Why Write? by Linda O. Johnston

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Linda O. Johnston, a former lawyer who is now a full-time writer, currently writes two mystery series for Midnight Ink involving dogs: the Barkery and Biscuits Mysteries, and the Superstition Mysteries.  She has also written the Pet Rescue Mystery Series, a spinoff from her Kendra Ballantyne, Pet-Sitter mysteries for Berkley Prime Crime and also currently writes for Harlequin Romantic Suspense as well as the Alpha Force paranormal romance miniseries about shapeshifters for Harlequin Nocturne.  Her most recent release is her 44th published novel, with more to come.

Why write?

That’s a pretty basic question for authors, and yet I don’t always think about it.

Why do I write?  And, if you’re an author too, why do you write?

For me, I suppose the answer is both simple and complicated.  It’s who I am. 

I’ve always written something.  I started out enjoying writing essays for my classes in school, and then a touch of fiction, in grade school, then junior high and high school.  College, too, though what I usually wrote there were assignments rather than just doing it for fun.  My undergraduate degree was in journalism with an advertising emphasis, so my classes involved a lot of writing.

Later, I wrote articles for a small newspaper, then actually got a job in advertising and public relations–working for my father.  One of the most enjoyable things there was writing articles for a house organ magazine for the firm’s largest client, a men’s hairstyling and hair products company, though I could write nearly anything for the magazine.

Shift, while doing that, to law school.  I had a couple of articles published in the Duquesne Law Review, which was both prestigious and enjoyable. 

And fiction during this time?  Not a lot of it.  But after I got my JD degree and started working first for a law firm, then in-house for Union Oil Company, I began getting up an hour earlier than anyone in my growing household so I could write.

I soon actually began getting published, and of course that spurred me to write even more fiction, along with the contracts I reviewed and drafted.  In fact, that’s what stimulated me to come up with one of the phrases key to my life: Contracts are just another form of fiction.

My law career ultimately ended, so now I’m a full time writer.  And have you gleaned from all of this the answer to why I write? 

As I said before, it’s because that’s who I am!

I know a lot of other writers.  Some, like me these days, write full time.  Others maintain their “real” jobs as well.  But they’ll always find some time to dig in and write what they want–and that helps to make them who they are, too.

And you…?  

20 thoughts on “Why Write? by Linda O. Johnston”

  1. I had some great teachers throughout my schooling from elementary school through college who had students do lots of creative writing in class. A college professor even had some of us do productions with our writing in front of an audience. But mostly I wanted to write myself. I didn’t have to be coerced. Like you said, it is what we are. My imagination has a life of its own and it finds its way to the page. I couldn’t be anything else but a writer.

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    1. I once had an advanced English teacher tell me I’d never be a success. She didn’t like my lack of class participation –which in those days was because I was shy. But I’d love to show her now that, in my way, I’m a success!

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      1. I was going to major in English, but the only thing I remember about the first professor was that she waved her Phi Beta Kappa key at us on the first day of class to show us how smart she was and then basically bored me the rest of the year. We read some of the classics, but she made them unmemorable. I am reading many of them now on my own and enjoying them. Some people shouldn’t be teachers.

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    2. I apologize if this is a duplicate comment but when I wrote it before it didn’t appear here.
      I once had an advance English teacher tell me I’d never be a success. That was a result of my lack of classroom participation, but in those days I was shy. I’d love to show her now that, in my way, I’m now a success!

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  2. Under the influence of Nancy Drew, I wrote mysteries in grade school and read them to my friends after school. I also illustrated the stories. I drifted away from writing mysteries for decades, but eventually came back to the typewriter—but it was a word processor by that point!

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  3. Some of us are drawn to writing, while others are driven to it, don’t you think? I love to write because it’s an outlet for my imagination, a way to edit what I want to say before I say it, and for those of us who write series, a way to live a parallel life in another time, place or manner. And I agree with you that all writing is writing. But then, why is it that I can pound out 400 pages of novel, but when it comes to summarizing it in a few paragraphs for my publisher, I become weak in the knees?

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  4. What was your first published work of fiction, Linda, and at what point in your career did that happen?
    I love to write and I like to share stories (especially with children), but I can’t seem to get the “oomph” to strive for publishing. I’ve had tons of articles published in newspapers and got paid for them, but the illusive desire to get a book done, with the idea of publishing it, well….. Skeptical? Lazy? No ambition? Fear?
    Anyway, I admire you for all the books you have written. It’s amazing.

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    1. My first published fiction was a short story in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, which I often note in my bio–because it won the Robert L. Fish Award for best first mystery short story of the year! I was a practicing lawyer at the time. I had a few more short stories published, and then my first novel was published about six years later, a time travel romance.
      You’re doing all the things I would suggest for a writer to get started and more. Maybe when the right idea comes to you it’ll make you sit down and write it and get it published!

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  5. “Contracts are just another form of fiction.” What a great observation! One thing I’ve loved about getting to know other writers is that I’m not the only person who feels an actual need to write–I get weird (weirder than usual) when I’m not writing. And, like you, I’ve been writing for almost my entire life. It’s a way of experiencing and maybe making sense out of the world. Great post, Linda.

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  6. Why do I write? That’s a tough question to answer beyond “Because I enjoy it,” isn’t it? But I guess that’s the heart of why anyone writes. After all, this isn’t always the most lucrative or glamorous job at times, so you better love it if you’re going to dedicate yourself to it. Great post that got me thinking! Thanks :))

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    1. And thank you for your comment! I do enjoy writing–some of the time. Maybe most of the time. But I know I’m going to sit down and write even on those days when I only have a few minutes because, again, it’s who I am! Same with you? Enjoy!

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