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Why I Write Reason 13: I Love Reading

When I was a kid, the first thing I remember reading is a comic book. It was World’s Finest Comics issue 184, dated May 1969. I was 5 years old. I’m sure that I read other comics before that, but it’s the one that stuck in my mind. It was while reading that comic that I had the realization that people create things. An actual person drew the pictures. Someone made up the story and wrote the dialog. If people do that stuff, that meant that I could do it, too.
 
Some bibliophiles will say that they read because they love language, or well-told tales, or the elements of genre. A lot of people will tell you that they became writers, and love writing, for the same reasons that they love reading. For me, in an abstract way, reading connected me with people. Real people who were far away, that I would never meet. Folks who were different from me. People in countries I might never visit. People who were dead, but still able to connect with me. I wanted to be able to do that.
 
It was a mind-blowing concept to a 5 year old. If you stop to think about it, that’s a mind-blowing concept as an adult. I’m sitting here in my kitchen Jyväskylä, Finland, at 2:45 p.m. on a Saturday afternoon, 22 April 2017, writing these words. You are wherever you are, whenever you are, reading them. Now we’re connected, fleetingly. Reading is an amazing superpower. It’s a form of magic. How could I not want to close the loop and write as well, reaching out to others the way so many writers have reached out to me?
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Why I Write Reason 12: I’m Lonely

Solitude can be a blessing or a curse. If you desire it, then it’s a wonderful thing. Getting away from people for a while and having some quiet time with your own thoughts is healing. When it’s not something you desire, it can be painful. My solution is to turn the former into the latter, and leverage solitude even when it’s unwelcome. Put another way, I write because I’m lonely.
 
This is adjacent to my thoughts on boredom; there is always something to do. They may not be the things that you want to do, but they still need doing. When you try to view things are resources, rather than limitations, then you can figure out how to work with them. If Katie’s away, or I’m cooped up in the house because of weather or health, I may rather be with people and being social. My emotional needs might not get met. But I need to recognize the gift of time that I’ve been given, and use it.
 
Writing might not meet my emotional needs of the moment, but it meets some emotional need. It’s like being hungry for a hamburger but all you have in the house is soup. The bottom line is that you’re still hungry, and you have soup, you can eat. It might not be satisfying, and not as good as the burger you crave, but it’s better than nothing. It will get you through.
 
I haven’t even talked about the content of what I write, only the activity. Loneliness, like any other emotion, can inform the writing. I can express my feelings through characters. The people that I want to hang out with, the things we’d do and talk about, can be fictionalized. Or I can write about anything at all, non-fiction, game design, technical writing, if only to fill the time and occupy my mind. Writing is a useful distraction, whether you’re using it to explore your emotions or avoid them.
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Why I Write Reason 11: To Have Something To Show for My Time

Long ago and far away, I read an article or an interview about the Wild Cards series. If you’re not familiar, Wild Cards is a shared-world superhero/science fiction setting. A wide range of authors contributed short stories and novels to the canon. It came about when a group of authors in New Mexico, including George R.R. Martin, were playing a game called Superworld. They invented their own superhero mythology, created all sorts of strange characters, put a lot detail into it. At some point they realized they were spending more time on this superhero roleplaying game than on the writing they hoped to get paid for. That’s when the idea to publish the first anthology of stories set in that universe came about.

I’ve been a tabletop roleplaying game aficionado since high school. There have been games that I have gotten enthusiastic about. I’ve put time and effort into creating all sorts of elements for those games. I have written full campaigns for games that I was not even running, was not planning to run, and have never run. If you have a fully-functional life and it’s a healthy pastime, that’s fine. If it becomes an obsession and keeps you from doing other constructive things, it’s a problem.

When I read the Wild Cards article, I was not happy with my life and I wanted something more to show for it. I did have binders full of ready-to-run campaigns and worlds that I had created and all sorts of fun stuff. That’s not what I needed at that point in my life. That was not a career. That was not accomplishing any life goals. It was not paying my rent. So I shifted that energy into things that had the potential to land me a job.

I write because I want to be able to show that I have accomplished something. The books that I have read have brought me immense amounts of joy over the decades. The same can be said for movies that I have watched, and games that I have played. But they are not a body of work. They are not a legacy. They are not an accomplishment. I need to have something that demonstrates I did more with my life than waste time being entertained.

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Why I Write Reason 10: I Love Early Mornings

My love of late nights is something that I’ve written about before. Because I’m an insomniac I don’t always sleep on a regular schedule, so I also love early mornings. There are a lot of the same characteristics. The quiet, the solitude, the peaceful vibe. Mornings have their own magic. Writing gives me an excuse to get up before dawn. I write because I love early mornings.

What makes mornings special is the unexplored potential. At night, I know how the day has gone. I’m often up doing damage control before I go to bed, or playing catch-up on things I didn’t get to. I end up trying to redeem a day that went horribly awry. It’s a way of getting in the last word.

In the morning, I’m taking control and setting the tone for everything that follows. If I want it to be a casual day, I can slow my pace, sip some coffee, and take my time. If I need to hit the ground running and grind, I come flying out of the gate. I get more done in the hours before most people are even out of bed than those people will get done all day. When I want to be in a good mood, I spend the first couple of hours cultivating that. Get the tone of the day established before anyone else can ruin it. If I need to be the scary, no-nonsense guy, I have time to build the mental fortitude for that. Then I have the momentum to plow through people who think they can stand in my way.

Mostly, though, I like to take as long as I need to wake up, putter around, and ease into things. Have an extra cup of coffee before getting into the grind. Take a little extra care answering some emails. Work on some passion projects without worrying that it’s cutting into paid writing time. Watch the sun rise. Appreciate that I get to do something that I love for a living.

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Why I Write Reason 9: Sweet Revenge

It is well known that I can be a stubborn and ornery individual. You cannot force me to do something that I do not want to do, or, , you can but I’m not going to go easily. You also can’t stop me from doing something that I want to do. If you want to get me going, tell me that I’m destined to fail. Then I’ll go off and succeed just for spite. That’s why I write. Because I was told that I couldn’t make it in the world as a writer. I write for revenge.

Blah blah starving artist. Blah blah people don’t read any more. Blah blah all the bookstores are going out of business, blah blah it’s hard to make money, blah blah blah blah blah. Give up, Berin, and get a real job. You can’t support yourself and your family stringing words together. Especially not by doing that weird silly elfgame nonsense that you do.

There are also the other writers who are more talented than I am. They have an education more relevant to this vocation than I do, and never had a kind word to say about my work. They don’t have my drive, though. They haven’t got the will, the fire, the hunger. Most of them remain unpublished. I outsell, meaning I’m more widely read, than many that got published. It’s coming up on a year now that I’ve paid the bills exclusively with what I earn as a writer. Every book of mine on DriveThruRPG is a best seller. I’d say that qualifies me as a professional writer, even if I’m not a household name.

It gets annoying that I bring those things up so frequently, and yeah, I even annoy myself. But do you know why I do it? Because there are people who beat me over the head with their assessment that I’m destined to fail. That I was foolish to even try. That I should give up, and conform, and do what they think I should do with my life. I ought to stick to what society deems to be safe and normal and acceptable. So yes, I’m going to take every success, no matter how small, and wield it like a baseball bat with nails driven through it. I will wail on the nay-sayers and doom-bringers and harbingers failure. I will bludgeon them with every win that I can muster until they admit that they were wrong. And then I will keep writing.

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