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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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Why I Write Reason 8: It Clears My Head

There’s a lot on my mind at any given moment. I manage the household, and I run a business. There are always chores to do, meals to cook, and deadlines to meet. I’m a foreigner, living in a country with a language far removed from my own mother tongue. I’ve got physical health issues. I suffer from an anxiety disorder and hypervigilance. Things become overwhelming and I need to stop and center myself. That’s when I sit down at the keyboard. I write because it clears my head.
 
Writing is one of the few activities that requires 100% of my attention. If I’m trying to process too much, I stop and write. When I get turned around because I’m feeling as if I should be doing three different things at once, I write. If I need to hit pause and regroup because I’m overwhelmed, I write. It doesn’t matter what I write. Fiction, non-fiction, an email, a blog post, anything longer than a grocery list will do. It’s a mental time out.
 
If you can, imagine the inside of my head as as a cocktail party. The guests are tasks that need my attention. They’re all talking at once, so I can’t hear any of them. Whenever I try to give my attention to one, another interrupts. Writing is like going into another room away from them all. To mix metaphors, writing is “base”, where I’m safe and no one can tag me. When I come back to the party the guests, those pressing tasks, are sitting quietly, waiting for me. Then I can deal with them one by one.. I mean this figuratively, of course; I do not actually hear voices, I’m using an analogy that seems to fit.
 
This is why the most hectic periods of my life have been my most productive. I drop back and write an essay, or a few pages, even a few paragraphs, then hit the next task. One thing at a time. Each task getting my full attention, until I need to refocus. The more tasks I complete, the fewer guests remain at the party trying to talk over each other. Writing seems to be the key to getting anything and everything else done.
 
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Why I Write Reason 7: I’m a Control Freak

Over the course of my lifetime very little has gone according to plan. It would disappointed my teenage self to learn that I am not a rich and famous comic book artist. I do not own the world’s largest collection of paperback science fiction novels, which I have read — twice. In a perfect life I wouldn’t have health issues. People would be a lot nicer to each other, and the world would be a much better place than it is at the moment. I have no control over those things. What I do have control over are the things that I create. I write because I’m a control freak.

Not that I would go back and change anything, even if that were possible. The events of my splintered and salty life led me to Katie, and to Finland, and to writing for a living. What I need, and what I want, are things that my teenage self couldn’t have envisioned. The unexpected twists and turns have taught me valuable lessons. I wouldn’t have encountered so much wonder if things had gone according to plan. It’s been a worthy adventure.

Sometimes, though, you need a safe haven. A space to process your thoughts, to unpack your emotions and get your head around things. A process whereby you can make things a little brighter, or make certain events suck less. That’s what writing is for me. Writing is a form of control, whether I put it into fiction or essays or blog posts. It can release it to the world, or keep it to myself and let it be my own private sanctuary. Writing is something I can do where there is nothing to do. It’s that corner of my imagination where things will always go the way I want them too. That’s magic.

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Why I Write Reason 6: I’m an Entrepreneur

Back in late 2009, and for a few years after that, I was living in a city with a high rate of unemployment. I was either under-qualified or overqualified for any job that was available. The former I understand. Lacking the proper scientific credentials, a government research lab shouldn’t hire me. Saying that I can’t stock shelves or run a cash register because I’ve got too much management experience is a bit much. They were likely afraid that I’d want more money, or get bored and quit, or try to take over running the place. So I took it upon myself to invent a job. I needed to pay the rent somehow, and one thing I could do with no real start-up costs was string words together. I write because I’m an entrepreneur.

Since moving to Finland, the situation is commensurate to my last few years in the United States. Unemployment is high. I didn’t speak the language when I arrived, and I still don’t speak it well. I don’t have a degree from a Finnish university. My job skills aren’t so specialized that there are no Finns available to fill any position I’m qualified for. Which means I keep doing the writing thing to pay the bills.

There are a lot of writers out there struggling to make a living. I’m not rich, but I manage to get the rent paid and keep food on the table. This is because I behave like a entrepreneur first, and a writer second. I’ll cop to being a hack. While I would love to be in it for the art, and do my best to practice craft as much as possible, my motivation is money. I make choices based on what will sell. It’s not that I use my business degree to sell my writing. My writing is the product that I have available to sell as a businessman.

A lot of people will have a problem with that. A while back someone had an issue with me referring to my books as “products” rather than works of art. As long as people enjoy them, find them useful, and get value for their money, who cares about semnatics? It’s not like I’m undermining the field or literature or ripping people off. To make a modest living creating something that gets read beats making high art that no one will ever get to see.

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