Why I Write

Why I write


I need a dumptruck mama to unload my head


I think my passion for writing began at a very early age. In Primary School Friday afternoon was purely for writing. I think our teacher wanted to end the week on a bit of a skive. We wrote for the whole two hours and I loved it. It was my favourite time of the week.


Back then we wrote with old nibbed pens with ink in inkwells. My thumb and two fingers were stained with ink, my work was full of blots and my writing was an indecipherable scrawl, but it felt like freedom. My mind gelled into stories, words and sentences. I came alive.


Because of my great untidiness I am certain that my teachers in Secondary school did not see or develop my writing skills but I remained an avid reader and my head was full of ideas. I wrote poems.


At the age of twenty one I decided I wanted to be a writer. I had this concept for a book that was a fragmentary collage of prose, poetry, cartoons and philosophy. It started with a sperm and egg and ended in death. I was utterly absorbed in it and it consumed my days for the next couple of years. It took around 2000 hours of typing. I called it Reality Dreams and sent it away to publishers to await instant acclaim. It was utterly, and rightly, rejected.


Undeterred I set about writing a more conventional Sci-fi novel. I enjoyed the writing so much, waking up in the night to jot down ideas, avidly typing as the thoughts flowed, trying to keep up. One book followed another. The ideas kept flowing, the passion soared and the rejection slips filled a drawer.


When we had our family I would come home from school teaching, play with the kids and put them to bed, watch a bit of telly and then start writing at around ten or eleven. I would lose myself in it and have to force myself to stop at around three so that I could get some sleep because I knew what I’d feel like the next day. When writing a book I would manage on four hours sleep a night for three or four weeks. Days would be full of scribbled notes as ideas came into my head while I taught. I scrawled them down in every free moment. It consumed me.


I stopped sending my books off. I merely kept them in drawers. I no longer thought about publishing them. I just wrote them. By the time I came up to retirement I had around forty of them. So I decided that I would self-publish them and then at least I would have a copy for myself.


The ideas keep coming though. I keep writing new books. I think it’s about 59 books now.


My early ones are typed on an old typewriter and exist as paper copies so I’ve been typing them up, so that they are now digital, editing them and then publishing them. I’m still working my way through them.


Which brings me back to the reason why I write.


I write because I enjoy the process even more than reading.


I write because the ideas fill my head and I enjoy capturing them.


I write because I enjoy solving the problems of how to make it work.


I write to tell stories, to describe terrible things so that they might not happen, to educate and to share the wonder. I write to communicate the things inside my head.


I work at getting better through the process of writing, editing and rewriting, listening to criticism and trying to take that on board - which is why I share some of my writing on this illustrious site. Improving one's writing is a hard long slog. Progress is always hard.


opher goodwin Added Jun 10, 2018 - 10:18am
Have we just survived an attempted Riley Brown coup?
I write so that it might not happen!
Katharine Otto Added Jun 10, 2018 - 10:36am
You are an inspiration.  The teacher who devoted two hours/week to writing has my utmost respect and admiration.  I wish it was standard practice in schools through graduation.  We'd have much better educated people, more mature, critical thinking, and better communicators all around.
I keep a journal because words are always spinning in my head.  Also, I love reading and research more than writing.  It challenges me to try coordinating disparate facts and ideas into coherent articles.  However, I feel too scattered to try writing a whole non-fiction book, at least now.  My perpetually-in-progress novel has improved over the years, but it's still not in publishable form.
opher goodwin Added Jun 10, 2018 - 10:41am
Katharine - you are right. What schools need is more reading and writing to extend those creative young minds!
Get that novel finished! It deserves to breathe!!
Ric Wells Added Jun 10, 2018 - 10:51am
To write is to breathe. To breathe is to live. The only limits a writer has are the limits you put on yourself. It is freedom defined.
Ryan Messano Added Jun 10, 2018 - 11:52am
Genius is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration, and that applies to writing.  There was a tale of a ceramics class which was divided into two sides. One was judged on quality and the other on quantity.  The side judged on quantity ended up with the best quality because all of the mistakes they made along the way helped them form a better finished product. So with writing.
Dino Manalis Added Jun 10, 2018 - 12:57pm
 Writing is a methodology to express our views!
opher goodwin Added Jun 10, 2018 - 1:02pm
Ric - what other occupation enables one to travel through time, space and all the realms of the imagined?
It fills each breath with wonder.
opher goodwin Added Jun 10, 2018 - 1:03pm
Ryan - that may well be true. Over my long career in writing, producing 59 books, there has certainly been a leap in quality.
opher goodwin Added Jun 10, 2018 - 1:03pm
Dino - indeed - symbols to display the mind.
Even A Broken Clock Added Jun 10, 2018 - 8:22pm
Opher - for many years, my writing was limited to procedures for work. I was very good at it, but many attempts at writing fiction had shown me that I was not able to capture characters and particularly dialogue very well.
I had entered forensics contests in high school, and ended up second in my state in informative public address. After I retired, I decided to start a blog and realized that long ago, when I was doing informative public address, that was my best format. Since then, the discipline of doing one or two posts a week has made me a better writer. But I can't say that I've been driven to write, it's always been a side interest.  I do enjoy it though.
Dave Volek Added Jun 10, 2018 - 9:20pm
Your opening statement said it for me.
For me, one of the most satisfying things about writing has been getting stuff out of my head, on "paper", and where other people can see it. 
Mustafa Kemal Added Jun 10, 2018 - 11:46pm
opher, what a joy to read.  There is something in me that has always loved the nerd. The science nerd, guitar nerd, art nerd, running nerd, and writing nerd, and you are indeed one of the latter. And  regarding
"Ric - what other occupation enables one to travel through time, space and all the realms of the imagined?
It fills each breath with wonder."

NOW you are talking.
 I embrace you as a brother.
Stone-Eater Added Jun 11, 2018 - 2:37am
The same I feel when I write songs, play and record them :)
opher goodwin Added Jun 11, 2018 - 3:23am
EABC - I can identify with that. Writing is a craft that takes a time to master. There are many different types of writing. They have different objectives.
Ultimately I write for pleasure. I find the experience of solving the problems in a sentence, a chapter and ultimately a novel extremely fulfilling.
I guess we end up doing what we feel we are best at.
The need to create is paramount.
opher goodwin Added Jun 11, 2018 - 3:25am
Dave - I agree. When you start with blank pages and end up having created a whole world out of nothing but your imagination; that is highly satisfying.
opher goodwin Added Jun 11, 2018 - 3:26am
Mustafa - thank you. It is good to exchange views with fellow writers. 
opher goodwin Added Jun 11, 2018 - 3:28am
Stone - I think the need to create is a very positive human trait. Most people possess it in one form or another. It is the same satisfying experience whatever field you work in. You start with nothing and end with something. Trying to make that something as good as you can get it is a process that is a struggle and out of that struggle comes great satisfaction.
Neil Lock Added Jun 11, 2018 - 3:49am
Opher - thank you for baring your soul about your writing. The comments on this thread are also very interesting. It just goes to show, that we are all different!
Myself, I find writing hard work, but very satisfying when I look back. In my "serious" articles, I write very slowly. I'm naturally a perfectionist, and I often find it hard to stop editing and let the thing go! The lighter stuff, like poems, just happens; one idea, half an hour's writing and it's done. But I always find it harder to write when I'm busy with paid work. Which is why I've written almost nothing in the last couple of months.
opher goodwin Added Jun 11, 2018 - 4:31am
Neil - the interesting thing for me is that there is no set methodology for writing. People do it differently.
I had a friend, sadly dead now, who was the best writer I have read. Unfortunately he was too meticulous. He would never write a novel. He would meticulous write a page and then go back over it repeatedly trying to get it perfect and never succeeding. Anything less than perfect was unacceptable. He never got past the first page.
I myself have written in different ways. Sometimes I plan it out and sometimes I let it flow. But I do a lot of writing. When it flows it flows.
Thanks for your comments. 
Ric Wells Added Jun 11, 2018 - 6:22am
Ya just don't mess with the muse.  To me the worst thing a writer can do is dictate where the characters want to go. Just sit back they'll tell you . It's a matter of trust. Just watch the story unfold in front of you and have a pad and pen ready.
opher goodwin Added Jun 11, 2018 - 9:11am
Ric - it is remarkable how the characters come to life isn't it? Once it flows it takes on a life of its own.
Ric Wells Added Jun 11, 2018 - 9:14am
Like watching a movie in your minds eye and I'm just recording the action. I love it when I'm  in the middle and something happens that gives me that OH REALLY moment. Just happened 2 minutes ago on the story I'm writing.
opher goodwin Added Jun 11, 2018 - 10:20am
Great stuff Ric. There is nothing better than getting lost in it is there. It is like something has taken you over and is writing through you.
Ric Wells Added Jun 11, 2018 - 11:31am
You become the conduit of what wishes to be said. Trust it.
Bill H. Added Jun 11, 2018 - 12:12pm
Opher - You are indeed a gifted writer as I have seen even more since I found you site. I wish I could scratch the surface of your talent.
My only serious venture into writing was when I had to take over the job of writing technical manuals as a contractor on a USAF radar simulation project. The person that was originally hired to write the manuals spent most of his time chasing the ladies around the office and going from cubicle to cubicle bragging about how smart he was. After it was discovered that he had barely written the first section of a 12 section manual, I was assigned the job, along with all of the other work I was doing. I actually found writing technical manuals to be quite enjoyable, and ended up also doing the hands-on training for the system, which was one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had. Watching young USAF cadets thirsty for knowledge become virtual experts on a complicated radar signal acquisition and simulation system over a few months was amazing and gave me great satisfaction.
Keep up the good work on spreading the good words, my friend!
opher goodwin Added Jun 11, 2018 - 12:50pm
Ric - oh I do. I let myself go.
opher goodwin Added Jun 11, 2018 - 12:52pm
Bill - thank you for your kind words. You are too kind, I think.
I too found that writing out educational policies extremely interesting - more than one might have imagined. But it is with fiction that I find my real passion.
Ric Wells Added Jun 11, 2018 - 1:04pm
I would have to say writing fiction is the most rewarding for me also. No limitations no boundaries. What you write becomes your child and yours alone.
opher goodwin Added Jun 11, 2018 - 1:17pm
Ric - that is right - no restrictions - no limits. Long may the ideas keep flowing! All my books are my babies - even the early ones that weren't so good.
Neil Lock Added Jun 11, 2018 - 3:16pm
Bill H: I, too, have written user documentation. And, on occasions, trained users. Did you never get the sinking feeling that you (the trainer) found out that you (the documentor) had made a boo-boo?
Ric Wells Added Jun 11, 2018 - 3:20pm
My latest not so short story. "Hope in the sounds of the colors of times". Just finished this morning. Now I'm transcribing onto laptop proofing and editing.
Neil Lock Added Jun 11, 2018 - 3:25pm
Opher and Ric: Well, I certainly write faster and more fluently when I have a few glasses of wine inside me. Then next morning, reality takes over and the red pen expunges about 80 per cent of it! The remaining 20 per cent is good stuff, but it's a slow way to write.
And I'm a compulsive reviewer and re-reviewer, so eventually only about 5 per cent of the wild idea makes it even to the first draft. That said, some of my very best lines have come in that way.
Ric Wells Added Jun 11, 2018 - 3:51pm
Neil if that is your system then that's the correct way for you to write. There is no one set way. Every writer is different.
Neil Lock Added Jun 11, 2018 - 4:41pm
Ric: Thanks for the encouragement. Actually, what I described is my way of writing fiction. With the serious stuff, my procedure is the opposite way round. It's "write sober, review drunk (usually in my local Wetherspoon), review again sober." It's astonishing how much crap you can write when you're all wound up into a ball of concentration, and even one pint of beer can make you think, "Did I really mean that?"
Opher: I think the Riley Brown "coup" is actually a software bug. A lot of data must have been lost in the recent problems, including ranking stuff. I suspect that the software was re-initialized, and it thought, to mis-quote George Orwell: "All writers are equal. And Riley Brown is more equal than others."
Ric Wells Added Jun 11, 2018 - 4:49pm
Either that or someone hit like on a bunch of his causing that to happen. Whatever it was like everything in life it's only temporary.
Bill H. Added Jun 11, 2018 - 5:19pm
Neil - My first boo-boo was not formatting in double column (as required in military tech manuals). My next was not to include the "This Page Was Left Blank Intentionally" on some pages, my third and worse was inserting a picture upside down. Luckily, it was caught prior to publishing by a sharp proof reader who was hired just in the nick of time!
We did have to change out a sub assembly after the manual was published and training began, so I had to wing thru it in the training process and did leave out some important details. I also accidentally trained a couple people who I was unaware did not have the proper security clearance level on some secret clearance level comsec fill/load equipment. Whoops! 
opher goodwin Added Jun 11, 2018 - 6:26pm
Ric - good luck. Has it gone well?
opher goodwin Added Jun 11, 2018 - 6:28pm
Neil - that's not the way I'm presently working. I let it flow and get a complete first draft. Then I go back and do a rewrite, tidy up and redraft. Then I go back and do a second rewrite. Then I'll trust it to an editor to check over.
opher goodwin Added Jun 11, 2018 - 6:29pm
Neil - I think you're right about Riley - but it was amusing. Why did it select Riley? He doesn't start with A.
opher goodwin Added Jun 11, 2018 - 6:30pm
Ric - that is another possibility. Perhaps he paid a few people?
opher goodwin Added Jun 11, 2018 - 6:31pm
Bill/Neil - I've made a couple of boobs. It's always bad when you are doing a presentation and see grammatical nonsense appearing.
Ric Wells Added Jun 11, 2018 - 7:33pm
Opher it's going just fine.
opher goodwin Added Jun 12, 2018 - 3:36am
Ric - tell me something about it Ric.
Ric Wells Added Jun 12, 2018 - 6:09am
Opher here's the opening 2 paragraphs.
by Ric Wells 6/11/2018
The swirling whirlwinds of times rapidly cascaded through the universes as they streaked towards their lone destination. The separate chords of measurement intertwined with each other to give the appearance of a singular force. As they twisted, turned and spiraled through the darkness that knew no dimensions and no boundaries the individual threads produced shooting colors of cosmic dist to match their unique personalities.
It was the ravage of millennia and eons that had taken this once thriving globe and turned its fortunes into a cesspool of rot and death. Upon learning of its condition the threads of all compiled themselves into a single band of prism-like salvation in hopes of forging their way through the ever closing cloak of destruction. The masterpieces of a Picasso, Pollack, Van Gogh, Rembrandt or a myriad of others had been rendered senseless and useless as the mere words for the differences in pigmentation had been lost centuries ago. All was colorless, tasteless and toneless as this once thriving sphere had evolved into nothing more than differing shades of black, white and grey. And the mood of the humans that inhabited this ball of doom matched its lack of soul and consciousness.
opher goodwin Added Jun 12, 2018 - 7:00am
A tale of our times then Ric!
That's pretty bleak.
Ric Wells Added Jun 12, 2018 - 7:11am
You'll have to read the rest when I'm finished.
wsucram15 Added Jun 12, 2018 - 12:02pm
Opher..ive been writing all my life, as far back as I can recall but always on the things I observe or experience. I did have a short stint with poetry if I recall when I was 14 or 15.  Ive done formal writing for public speaking or just speeches/presentations during and since high school. But thats a different thing really.
Most of my writing was not creative it was formal. More so research and writing in specific formats. I like it though and I am an avid reader who loves good writing.
Mark Hunter Added Jun 13, 2018 - 3:33am
I've always shortened it to:
I write because I can't not write.
opher goodwin Added Jun 13, 2018 - 6:10am
Ric - OK.
opher goodwin Added Jun 13, 2018 - 6:11am
Jeanne - formal writing is creative - just different. I too am an avid reader when I can find the time.
opher goodwin Added Jun 13, 2018 - 6:12am
Gregory - me too. It unloads the head. Once it's written the buzzing slows down. It also helps me to see the thoughts more clearly.
opher goodwin Added Jun 13, 2018 - 6:13am
Mark - very good. That sums it up.
Stone-Eater Added Jun 13, 2018 - 6:44am
WHO is to decide if you can "write or not" ? And btw you wrote a comment, which means you CAN write, eh ? ;-)
Mark Hunter Added Jun 13, 2018 - 6:52am
Oh, I don't care if other people say I can or can't write, Stone. What I'm trying to say is that I've tried to give up writing, from time to time, and I just can't do it. Might as well try to give up chocolate. To me that defines why I'll always be a writer ... not because of any measure of success, but because I can't stand not writing. Writer withdrawal is a horrible thing.
opher goodwin Added Jun 13, 2018 - 8:18am
Stone - I reckon writing is in the eye of the beholder.
opher goodwin Added Jun 13, 2018 - 8:18am
Mark - that says it all.
Stone-Eater Added Jun 13, 2018 - 9:07am
Since my eyesight is getting worse I'm glad I taught myself tp play guitar since I was 17. I can do that blindly by now LOL
Ric Wells Added Jun 13, 2018 - 9:24am
Mark if you like what you write that is all that matters.
Stone Frank Zappa once said if it sounds good it's music. I remember watching him on television a long time ago and played the bicycle. Nothing else. Just to prove his point.
Mark Hunter Added Jun 13, 2018 - 9:26am
I tried to teach myself to play the guitar, at the same age. That's when I found out I'm tone deaf and have no sense of rhythm. So ... writer, it is!
Ric Wells Added Jun 13, 2018 - 9:39am
Mark I'm fortunate enough to be able to do both. Although writing came very late in life. I am a writer and an author. Guitar? I would say amateur status although I have played out as a solo.
opher goodwin Added Jun 13, 2018 - 9:54am
Stone - I sure wish I could play an instrument - no talent whatsoever.
opher goodwin Added Jun 13, 2018 - 9:55am
Mark - just like me.
opher goodwin Added Jun 13, 2018 - 9:55am
Ric - multitalented!
Mark Hunter Added Jun 13, 2018 - 9:56am
I'm with opher. We'd make a good ... anti-band.
Ric Wells Added Jun 13, 2018 - 10:03am
Ric Wells Added Jun 13, 2018 - 10:10am
While I'm transcribing my newest not so short story been listening to Government Mule The Deepest End and now Joe Bonamassa Line at the Royal Albert Hall. Good stuff.
opher goodwin Added Jun 13, 2018 - 10:27am
Mark - I like the idea. The only trouble is if we bump into real musicians we could cancel each other out in a flash like antimatter and matter!
opher goodwin Added Jun 13, 2018 - 10:27am
Ric - you're welcome. I'm jealous.
opher goodwin Added Jun 13, 2018 - 10:28am
I've been playing Pink Floyd and Rolling Stones with Muddy Waters.
Ric Wells Added Jun 13, 2018 - 10:33am
Great stuff. You know Nick Mason reunited a band to play the Syd  Barrett stuff.
Stone-Eater Added Jun 13, 2018 - 12:23pm
LOL. Improvisation is all. Even mistakes can't take the feeling out :-)
opher goodwin Added Jun 13, 2018 - 12:24pm
Ric - I didn't know that. Are they playing live or doing an album?
opher goodwin Added Jun 13, 2018 - 12:26pm
Stone - this is great. I love that improvisation!
Ric Wells Added Jun 13, 2018 - 12:27pm
Both. Box set is supposed to be coming out. 
Ric Wells Added Jun 13, 2018 - 12:27pm
Stone very nice.
Stone-Eater Added Jun 13, 2018 - 12:30pm
BTW: Problem is I didn't play any cords. I get carried away too often......gotta promote a better one LOL
Stone-Eater Added Jun 13, 2018 - 12:37pm
You wouldn't think that's the same guy, right LOL This is my Beatles' influence ;-)
Stone-Eater Added Jun 13, 2018 - 12:43pm
Stone-Eater Added Jun 13, 2018 - 12:48pm
Another side....it has no lyrics really.....I play all the time but I'm no good in lyrics really, sorry LOL
Stone-Eater Added Jun 13, 2018 - 12:57pm
Just wanted to show what one can do when he really wants to do. Writing is the same thing. Just DO it. If people like it, superb. If they don't - life goes on ! Have a nice week everybody LOL
opher goodwin Added Jun 13, 2018 - 1:19pm
Ric - I'll keep an eye out for that. I love all things Floyd. I got to meet Syd back in the days and was at Abbey Road with Dave at Roy Harper recordings. Nice, pleasant guy.
opher goodwin Added Jun 13, 2018 - 1:20pm
Stone - I liked the Blues and I've heard Hello before. You're right - a bit of Beatles in it.
opher goodwin Added Jun 13, 2018 - 1:22pm
Stone - I prefer the guitar.
opher goodwin Added Jun 13, 2018 - 1:22pm
Stone - you have a nice week too!
Stone-Eater Added Jun 13, 2018 - 2:53pm
Thanks. I need to know what people like. No one plays only for himself ;-)
opher goodwin Added Jun 14, 2018 - 3:19am
Same with writing Stone