“Where Do You Get Your Ideas From?” by Miko Johnston

Miko Johnston is the author of the “A Petal In The Wind” series. Her third novel, “The Great War”, will be released next month. Miko lives in Washington (the big one).

 

Ah, inspiration. Creativity. The stuff that propels people like us to write.

 

I once took a course in creative thinking. It emphasized that creative ideas will come to you when you’re thinking about nothing. They’ll pop into your mind when you’re out for a walk, or unloading the dishwasher, or brushing your teeth. Sometimes they do, but not with assured reliability. The same is true when you’re trying to solve a problem. Creative ideas may come, but often the idea has no connection with what you’re focused on, and you rarely get struck by “problem-solved” lightning. Even if you come up with a brilliant idea, then what? Brilliant ideas are a pressure chamber. They set the bar stratospheric. How can you possibly be creative when you absolutely, positively must?

 

Therefore when family and friends have asked me, “Where do you get your ideas from?”, I never could answer that question. Until now. It all comes down to check and balance.

 

I’ve taught myself to focus on writing problems – ideas to launch a story or fix a stumbling block – and find a workable solution, not count on one spontaneously appearing. One of my tricks is to forego creativity and focus on the problem logically. Often when right brain creativity fails, left brain logic can nudge forth a wisp of an idea that you can build onto until you at least have a direction. For example, if I’m inspired to write about a young girl who wants to leave home, I could come up with dozens of scenarios of why and how she leaves. But logically, in order for this to be a story, I know one thing for sure – she has to leave home. Then it becomes a matter of when – is her leaving the inciting incident that launches the story, or will it be the climax?  That narrows the choices, and the focus, therefore maintaining the check and balance between creativity and logic.

 

Then there are times when logic isn’t the answer. To balance that, I switch my thinking from left brain to right, using free-form writing when I’m stumped in a scene. I select two characters and begin writing a conversation between them. I don’t bother with punctuation or tags, I just write. It usually takes between two and five minutes, but eventually my brain switches over and what comes out aren’t my words, but those of my characters’. Then I check it for any insight they may have and usually garner an idea for moving the story forward.

 

Sometimes the present solution lies in the past. Throughout the decades, I’ve jotted down many detached ideas that seemed worth saving. Sometimes it’s a clever line. Other times it’s a plot twist from a book or TV show that struck me as ingenious. I won’t repeat it, but I’ll take the basic premise and re-twist it. I did that in my current novel, A Petal In The Wind III, to solve a mystery in a way that will keep the middle of the book from sagging. These are one-time-only ideas, though, hence the balance. Why waste a clever idea on a project that doesn’t deserve it? That would be like breaking your diet with a graham cracker, not even a s’more.

 

I’m very fortunate to be at a point where life is good. While I want to enjoy it for as long as it lasts, sometimes it concerns me. I worry: What if I let it go to my head and I turn into an a-hole (hereon referred to as “that word”)? I keep myself in check and balance by thinking of the most ridiculous, outrageous “that word” examples I can, and then find the silliness in them. It isn’t hard. That’s how I get many of my humorous ideas.

 

These different methods share one commonality. I believe that inspiration, creativity, and ideas are all most likely to happen when you’re immersed in writing. Not just writing, working on it. If we don’t write, keep writing, work on improving our writing, we don’t leave ourselves open to ideas. It’s like searching china replacement websites to find pieces from your discontinued pattern to replace the ones you broke. There’s no guarantee they will be found, but it’s more likely to be found.

 

Consequently the best answer I have to, “Where do you get your ideas from”, is: “From writing.” As Linda O. Johnston pointed out in her recent post, writing is writing. Even something as specific as novel writing is “writing”, whether you’re trying to summarize a 400-page manuscript into three paragraphs for a query letter, distilling the story into a single logline, or expressing the proper gratitude in your Acknowledgements page. Then there’s everyday life writing – from letters of condolence and congratulations to reviews and critiques, emails, thank you notes, journaling, and more. All writing challenges us to form a series of words that unite into paragraphs and pages, sentences and stories. Words that will elucidate, or entertain, or maybe both. For those of us who call ourselves writers, writing is a part of who we are, and each type of writing expresses different parts of us. It keeps us in balance, and if we’re lucky, in checks.

Writing Advice: Better Done than Perfect

Complete confidence is not a common trait among writers. I assume that statement applies to people who work in any creative field. It’s not that we’re neurotic. Usually. We are often charming people if you can drag us out into public. Did I mention that we are typically introverts who prefer the company of animals?

So, why the lack of confidence?

When a writer brings a character to life, builds a world, and plots out an entire novel, it’s personal. The character’s thoughts, words, and actions are driven by the author, so they are a peek into that person’s mind. Not necessarily an expression of his or her own thoughts on a subject, but what he or she is capable of thinking about a subject. Writing is an act of exposure, and there is always the fear that someone will—wittingly or unwittingly—cause harm.

When a wolf exposes its belly to the pack, no other wolf will touch it, not even a pup. The same can’t be said of the reading public. Once that short story, essay or novel is out there, it becomes fair game for comments, criticism, and the dreaded internet trolls.

Sometimes the criticism is correct.

I’ve looked up the spelling of names and words when writing only to find they are spelled wrong in the final draft. How does this happen??? It’s a mystery, but it does happen. And I once referred to a shoe string necktie tie as a bolero rather than a bolo. Never mind that an editor and four proof readers missed it as well. When the book came out, a sharp-eyed reader caught it and left a scathing review on Amazon. I immediately corrected it, and I would have reached out and thanked the reviewer had it been possible to contact him.

Sometimes people will simply disagree with you.

In my second pet psychic mystery, A Bird’s Eye View of Murder, Frankie Chandler’s Aunt Gertrude is visiting from Arizona. Auntie can be overbearing at times, which made for some funny situations. Don’t we all have relatives who test our patience? A reader commented that Frankie was just another weak female character because she put up with her aunt and didn’t tell the old lady off. I don’t think self-control and respecting one’s elders are signs of weakness, so I moved on.

The natural response to a fear of making mistakes is to never, ever publish, and this may be why completed manuscripts still languish on some writers’ computers.

Recently, I was lamenting the results of a new jewelry technique I wanted to master. An artist friend told me Better done than perfect.

What a freeing thought.

This doesn’t mean an author should send out a submission or post a book on Kindle without a thorough proofread. (Note: You are your own worst proofreader, because you will fill in the blanks as you read with what you wanted to say. Find an expert if you can afford it. If not, remain friends with former classmates who delighted in comma usage.) It also doesn’t mean that half-baked efforts are okay. It’s only a first draft, but I really want to get it published. Someone will like it.

What it does mean is that after you’ve done your best, after you’ve taken all necessary steps to ensure mistakes are fixed and formatting meets industry standards, you need to let it go and move on to the next project.

Every time you reread a page, you will think of a new and—possibly–better way to say it. Know that and decide to end the loop.  You will never stop learning new techniques and tips. Your style will develop, and you will become a better writer, but only if you keep writing. (And not the same thing over and over.)

Once you complete a few projects and let them go, you may even see an increase in confidence. It’s not a guarantee. Those niggling thoughts may always follow you around. Is the finished product perfect? Are the clues too obvious? Did I misspell mononucleosis? Just remember, you’re in charge. You can ignore those thoughts, do your best, and move on.

Do you suffer from paralysis by analysis? Give us some examples. Sharing your demons and having a laugh over them destroys their power!

 

 

Impressionism or Realism?

Rest Stop on the Writing Journey

The trail leading to “why this post?” about visualizing characters—is twisty and meandering…

Trail-head number 1: Connotation and denotation[i]. I’ve wanted for awhile to do a post about how much a writer can potentially convey just by choosing a word that conveys more than a fact—but also has an “aura.” I’ve called it in the past, choosing the most-loaded word. A bend in the road with an uphill rise—also love alliteration, and especially if combined with words that denote more than their definition–even when just an impression. Though, there needs to be a shared or recognizable background for those words to work. So I’m often finding myself, especially in re-write and draft-reviews, trying to finWinding Road Signd that “perfect” word that will conjure up a particular image in the reader’s mind. At a minimum when stuck, adding peripheral-props, like a style of dress, or a slump of the shoulders, type of build, a turn of the head or other unconscious character mannerisms–even the type of car the character drives; instead of skin color, exact features, type of hair, or how the character “looks” in a mirror. Hopefully you get my drift even though these aren’t great examples. A starting “impression” a reader can create a real character from using their past life encounters.

Trail-head number 2: At my/our latest book club meeting we discussed different kinds Book Club Clip Art 23916of electronic gadgets like Smartphones, Kindles, IPods, etc. From somewhere in that discussion, audio books came up and I spouted-off about how much I liked them and what narrators I liked listening to.[ii] On the way home I also thought further about what writers I listen to, and realized my favorites mostly go on-and-on-and-on describing the physical attributes of their characters.

On the side of the road during a curving twist, in editing my latest, The Movie-Maker, it was rightly pointed out to me there’s not a lot of physical descriptions of my characters, and several could be “fleshed-out” a little better.

So, I went back and flipped through my latest (something I seldom do because it’s too late to rewrite…), but I wanted to know what I actually do/did—versus what I like to read, and what I might want to change in future books. FBRTMMFront300dpi1200pixAnd yes—unfortunately or fortunately—depending on your writing-style perspective, a lot of visualizing my latest cast of characters is left up to the reader without lengthy descriptions from me. Nonetheless, that night I so enjoyed listening to my latest audio book, a very long-winded character description in Margery Allingham’s The Fashion in Shrouds– brought to life by narrator Francis Matthews. I’m not sure if I saw the person(s) Margery wanted me to see, or if somehow, a key word(s) she used triggered in my memory a real person I’ve known or met? But Georgia Wells and others were very real. Hmmm. Dueling perspectives—even goals?

Bottom line I think, is creating identifiable characters—and by that I mean characters a reader can visualize in their mind’s eye, feel they know, and maybe even identify with—is QuestionMarkFaceneither easy, nor as linear as it at first might seem. The often given writing advice, “show not tell,” can definitely also be applied to character description–but it’s not the whole story either. I don’t think it’s easy—yet another writing goal ha! But an aspect of writing well worth being thought about when you’re doing that last draft. And asking the questions, “How will the reader picture XXXX in their mind’s eye? Have I given enough clues? Not enough description? Too much description?”

A side detour: (for a future post unless the road turns again)—the Hercule Poirot character I will always have in my brain is not the “person” I initially conjured-up from Agatha Christie’s realistic descriptions of the great detective in her books. No, it is David Suchet. Bringing up the question of what film actors and audio-readers bring to the character visualization table? And then there’s what picture a choice of a character’s name brings.

Happy writing trails! (even though sometimes circular, winding, and many times, an uphill climb.)


[i] Connotation – “An idea that is implied or suggested.”  Denotation – “The most direct or specific meaning of a word…”

[ii] Hugh Fraser and Patrick Malahide.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Winning and Worrying

by Jackie Houchin

In my last post (August 30), I wrote about The Write Practice and their Fall Writing Contest which I entered. It was the first contest I’d entered in 20 years. The theme was “Let’s Fall in Love” with the emphasis on FALL and LOVE.

AutumnGold paintingFrame2.I wrote a 1,500 word short story titled AUTUMN GOLD about a couple of young artists having a hard time making ends meet when a huge “windfall” arrives (literally) at their feet.  What they conspire to do about it is the gist of the story, with the climax happening on the first day of fall five years later.

If you wish to read the story, I’ve posted it here:  http://bit.ly/2vUvLTS

With over four hundred entries I had no thought of winning, and indeed placed the story in yet another contest. It was a good experience and I’d gotten some valuable help in crafting a good story.

Autumn-Gold, SFB cover photoTwo weeks later I was informed that AUTUMN GOLD was among the five Honorable Mentions (after first, second, and third places).  I was totally surprised.  Wow.  A week later they featured it – with the other winners – in their online magazine, Short Fiction Break with a jacket cover that, well, didn’t quite show what I had in mind, but which brought many readers and good comments.

So, I basked in the light of that glory, amazed still at the story winning anything, until their WINTER Writing Contest was announced. Eagerly I jumped on board that wagon.

A week later I had brain freeze and not from eating ice cream. Suddenly I had doubts of ever writing another short story let alone writing one good enough to win.  How do authors write book after book after having a good seller?  Are they freaked out with trying another story?  I think maybe series book writers may have an easier time, but maybe not?

Have you ever been in that place?  How did you overcome the fear and despair of ever writing something new that might be as good as a former book?

The theme for the new contest is “Countdown” and presents all sorts of possibilities of a suspense story, a heart-pounder, a page-turner.  What could be so desperate a deadline that a character would die or die trying to meet it?  A terrorist attack? A terminal cancer deadline?  A race to save someone from imminent death?

The only thing I could think of was a countdown to a wedding.  (My #2 granddaughter is getting married in two months.)  But what could be heart-stopping about that deadline?  The invitations got lost in the mail? The cake or flowers didn’t arrive?  The groom didn’t arrive because of traffic, an accident, an abduction?

wedding dress - dualWhat I came up with is a story with two points of view on an upcoming wedding ceremony. One person gleefully anticipates the event, thinking the time drags at a snail’s pace, while the other person desperately dreads the act and sees the time flying by way too quickly.

But oh, dear!  What could the climax be? What could happen when the time ran out for both people? What dynamic finale could I imagine when they came together before the clergyman?

At sat at my keyboard and wrote the story in almost one sitting, with very few changes. The ending shocked even me. Whoa!

And now I face a conundrum.  The story is due to start work-shopping in my contest Group on October 30.  After others read it and comment and I make any changes, the story must be submitted to the judges a week later on November 6.

All’s good, right?

No. Because the ending of UNTIMELY BRIDE does not sit well with my heart or my convictions.  I’ve been told this story could be another winner (see my ego puff up?)  and I fear that if I change it to ease my conscience that the story will lose its impact, become too soft to even be considered in the run. I’m reluctant to even try a rewrite. Or, I could always pull the story before November 6.

What to do? Leave it and remain uneasy, conflicted? Try to change the ending and be left with a milk-toast story? Write something entirely new… AT THIS LATE DATE?  Pull the story and simply enjoy reading and critiquing the other stories in my group in this contest?

What to do?

wedding dress - question

Open Your Story with a BANG!

Gayle will be at the Buena Vista Branch of the Burbank Library on Saturday, October 21, from 1-4 P.M. Drop by and say hello!

 

PART ONE

by Gayle Bartos-Pool

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Whether you are writing a novel, short story or screenplay, you use the same basic literary tools. If you want to give yourself a better chance to have your short story or novel picked up by an agent and then a publisher, you have to get their attention. If you are lucky, an agent/publisher will read your first chapter. Usually they will just read the first few pages or maybe only the first paragraph. This holds true for a short story that you might submit to a contest. They have 50-100 manuscripts stacked up and they are looking for any excuse to toss your work into the round file. You want to make your opening a grabber.

 

What exactly does an Opening Line/Paragraph/Scene in a Short Story, Novel or Screenplay do? I will explain using the Short Story, but much of this pertains to novels or screenplays as well.

 

  1. The Opening Line sets the TONE (funny/tragic/etc.), identifies the sub-genre of the story (Noir/cozy/sassy sleuth), states the problem, and hints at the solution. Put one or two of these in that opening line or paragraph.

How do you write a good Opening?

2. The Opening should get the reader’s attention:

Example: I couldn’t believe they found Brad’s body. I thought I buried him deeper. From “A Role To Die For” by G.B. Pool

3. Avoid the clichéd opening. EXAMPLE: Instead of: It seemed like a good idea at the time… or This was the worst day of my life…try: The two-by-four smacked me in the head. And here I thought the guy with the gun was my problem. (It’s the unexpected that grabs attention.)

4. The Opening should establish the RULES of the story; they must be consistent; you can’t start out as a comedy and end up with a philosophical think piece.

5. One way of setting the Tone in a short story is with a Very Strong Voice. You do this by either writing in First Person or using a strong Narrator (Third Person) describing the main character or the problem at hand. The voice will propel the short story. Whereas in a novel you can be more emotional and flowery in your delivery. A strong voice tells the reader what type of story he is reading, is more one-on-one, and holds the reader’s attention. The Omniscient Voice is colder, more remote, and unemotional. Third Person Close is more personal.

EXAMPLE: Archie Wright’s the name. Dishing dirt’s the game. My sandbox: Hollywood. The most glamorous and glitzy, vicious, and venomous playground in the world. If you come for a visit, bring your sunscreen and your shark repellent. If you come to stay, let me warn you, Tinsel Town eats up and spits out a hundred just like you every day. Sometimes it isn’t pretty, but it’s my job to chronicle the ebb and flow of the hopeful, the helpless, and the hapless. My best stories come from the dark side of Glitzville. From “Glitzville” by G.B. Pool

6. The Opening should allude to the ending or the Payoff, so you come full circle when you get to the end.

EXAMPLE – The Opening: “I already told you. I met the guy in a bar. We got to talking. Somehow he knew I’d been in trouble with the law before.”

****

EXAMPLE – The Closing: “Perhaps you would like to speak to a lawyer now, Mr. Harrison?” said the cop. From “The Big Payoff” by G.B. Pool (The poor shlub at the beginning has been confessing to a cop. This isn’t known until the end.)

 

As An Exercise: Compile Beginnings and Endings of Short Stories or Chapters in a novel. Use yours or the masters. It’s eye-opening.

Open Door7. The Opening should hint at, but not necessarily give away, the ending. A good example where this is done well is the opening from the movie Sunset Boulevard. (There is a dead body floating in a pool. It is narrating the story. How he got that way is the plot.)

 

Part Two will be up in a few weeks to continue this theme… Openings are important, my friends.

The Play’s the Thing – Plot is Everything - Some thoughts by Gayle Bartos-Pool

Most of the examples used are from my short story collection: From Light TO DARK.

Past, Present, and Future

by Gayle Bartos-Pool

books-on-shelfSome months ago there was an unbelievable news story on TV. The gist was that some teachers no longer wanted to teach the classics. Unlike my reaction to other things I have heard on TV news shows (or the Internet), I actually believed the report. My snarky first reaction was that the teachers probably couldn’t read themselves and didn’t want their students to know they were illiterate. I’m still tossing around that idea.

 

The problem is: that story won’t go away. I tried to analyze the reasoning behind the decision to ban the classics and came to the conclusion that there is no reasoning involved. It’s stupid. I wrote a blog back then starting with this same premise and then went on to sing the praises of two female authors, Mary Roberts Rinehart and Anna Katharine Green who were both born in the mid-to-late1800s. I love their work.

 

So now I am going to introduce you to a few more gems that you might not know, or if you know them, you might not have read them. Paul D. Marks mentioned this particular book in one of his recent blogs, so there must be something in going back and reading the classics.

The Count of Monte Cristo bookThe Count of Monte Cristo movie

First is Alexandre Dumas (Pere). The book I recently finished was The Count of Monte Cristo. If you have seen the recent movie, you saw a very nice production, but it veered from the original story like the car chase in Bullitt. The writer/director of the movie had to cut it down to size because there are 117 chapters. That’s a lot of cutting. They rewrote the ending, too. There was so much in the book; I was breathless after finishing it. And I loved it.

 

The book evolved in basically a series of short stories that slowly pieced together the main character’s life. There was a lot of life there. The writing shows us contemporary authors what character development can be if you know your character. No shallow, two-dimensional guy here. There were layers and nuances and glimpses inside this guy that made him real. The story unfolded like a beautiful flower opening.

 

But even Shakespeare (1564-1616) is more than readable. His stories have been contemporized, but the plots and characters are solid. They even set Romeo and Juliet to music in Westside Story. The plot was universal.

 

Mark Twain (1835-1910) turned out books that both kids and adults can enjoy. I read him as a kid and when I read him again as an adult I saw even more things in those pages.

 

Recently I have been reading E. Phillips Oppenheim (1866-1946). He was known as the Prince of Storytellers. He wrote a hundred novels and numerous short stories. Many of his works were turned into silent movies. What stuns me is how contemporary his work is. They might deal with a time long ago, but the feeling and the thoughts could have been written today. True, there are no car chases or throbbing sex scenes, but there is a story, a plot, stuff happening. And no filler.

 

We were just watching the movie Youngblood Hawke (1964) about a hot-shot new writer hitting the New York literary scene. The guy’s first book was sensational, his second book was trash. During the launch party, a famed reviewer said how the margins were too wide, the type too large, and the story filled with padding. He said it should have been a novella.

 

Lots of contemporary books are written with superfluous stuff. Too many sequels to fairly nice books are filled with redundancy. The characters are strictly stock with not much personality, and those are often the main characters. These books by the Old Masters don’t have filling or padding or fluff. Not even in the 117 chapters in The Count of Monte Cristo.

 

Phillips Oppenheim, a British author, filled his pages with new things on every page. In Peter Ruff and the Double-Four, a collection of short stories about the same character, his main character starts out as a very shady guy who decides to use his criminal expertise to sometimes thwart the bad guys and sometimes help them see the error of their ways. The character is dead clever and is marvelously one step ahead, even when you don’t see it coming.

The Illustrious Prince Book.pngThe Illustrious Prince movie

In both The Devil’s Paw and The Illustrious Prince, he brings some brilliant insights to spying during the early part of the Great War. The 1923 movie made from The Illustrious Prince totally rewrote the story, but maybe it was a good movie. Havoc was a pre-war tome as well. But each gives the reader not only an interesting story, but also a glimpse of the times in which they were written. Dare I say: the history of those times, lest it be forgotten.

Fahrenheit 451

Even Ray Bradbury’s science fiction novels and stories give a look at the thinking during his brilliant literary career. We all know science fiction is just a way of telling what is happening now and how it might manifest itself in the future. His Fahrenheit 451 is about book burning in the future, a time when the classics were banned. Sound familiar?

 

One of the reasons I have so enjoyed these older works is because they are so damn well written. I read contemporary stuff. Many of my writer-friends turn out some darn good work and they recommend other authors to me. Some are good, some aren’t. Sometimes it’s just a matter of taste. Sometimes they just stink. At my age, I will actually put down a book never to pick it up again because I have better things to do with my time if the book has absolutely nothing to offer.

 

Contemporary authors occasionally write historical stories. A good author does a ton of research and if they do the job well, it shows. Sometimes the dialogue might be more modern, but unless you want your reader to carry a large dictionary with them, you keep the words fairly current.

 

While reading these older works, I was amazed how contemporary the words and phrases were. I do understand that publishers revise many of the classics to make them more readable, but still, some of these are 70-100-150 years old. A few words might be archaic, but the meaning that comes through is very clear. Most of these books have themes that sound like they were written today. That is the mark of a very good writer. Some themes are universal and timeless.

 

But mostly their work endures… as long as people can still find them somewhere. I have a CD collection with 10,000 books on it. That’s where I have been reading these classics. At least they are safe for a while. Read on.

 

The picture below is me with the inimitable Ray Bradbury. God Bless him. (The picture was taken by our very own Jackie Houchin.)

RayGayleClose

Why Write? by Linda O. Johnston

lindaphoto

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…?