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JamesSavik

Why do you write?

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Someone asked that question. It's a good one that deserves an answer. I can only answer that question for myself.

Writing is a form therepy for me. Most of my writing is EXACTLY that. Jeff and Broken are about me, my friends and the experiences that we had growing up gay in 70s era Mississippi.

Sorry it's not a happy story but it is what it is. Most of those friends that I grew up with are dead, in jail or very f-ed up. We didn't need to be all that self destructive. Other people were doing the job for us. I've got the scars to prove it. We didn't have PFLAG, GLAD or GSAs. What we did have was the Baptist Church that told our parents to throw us out.

I write about my friends because most people have forgotten them. I write about them because I want their lives to have some meaning. I want what we went through to make sense, matter somehow and possbly do some good. I love them, I miss them and now I'm one of the last survivors.

I write to give the finger to the people who messed with a bunch of little kids until one of them put a .45 in his mouth and blew his brains out. I write to say I know what you MFers did and I'm not going to let you get away with it by hiding behind Jesus.

I write to air out my head. I write because when I do, I don't wake up screaming with nightmares where I'm fighting for my life. I release my rage, vent my anger and shed my greif.

What you don't know about me because I simply haven't gotten to it yet is that I was throw-away for a few years. When I write about the living on the street I know exactly what's going on there. I know what it's like to trade your dignity for some food and a safe place to sleep where you don't have to worry about someone stabbing you to steal your shoes. I know what it's like to have a trick turn sadist on you and torture you. I know what it's like.

I've tried to forget. God knows I've tried. I've smoked enough grass, popped enough pills and drank enough booze to drop an army corp. I've fought with addiction for most of my life. My Shrink tells me that with my background that it's amazing that I haven't become a sniper.

To have a life anywhere near normal, I've got to deal with it. That's what I'm trying to do. Tonight I got my chip for being clean & sober for 9 months.

So for those of you so upset with me I'll thank you NOT to judge me. You are fortunate to have enlightened parents and/or come from a place where being gay is not a big deal. I do not begrudge you this good fortune but you need to remember that your good fortune is an accident of birth.

You could have just as easily rolled snake-eyes.

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Someone asked that question. It's a good one that deserves an answer. I can only answer that question for myself.

I used to carry that question as my signature, but I removed it. Everyone has their own reasons to write, and it isn't important to judge them on why they write. When someone tells you why they write it is important because it reveals a different aspect fo writing. There are those I have met that write because they have to for work, there are some that want towrite for themselves, and some that are so compelled by the ink that they must write to live. Why ever you write is not to be judged, but only to be taken in, analyzed, and processed for use with one's own skills.

-N

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My name is Aaron, a member of The Mail Crew. I've written only one short, one-chapter story, so I won't try to answer the "Why do you write?" question.

I do, however, want to compliment the posts by James and Mr. Coleman. They're very convincingly presented and both are very thought-provoking posts. As a young, picky, smartassed editor, I could find nothing in Mr. Coleman's post that I would change. Awesome posts! Thank you for giving this young brat some new things to think about. (...about which to think. :D )

Aaron

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My name is Aaron, a member of The Mail Crew. I've written only one short, one-chapter story, so I won't try to answer the "Why do you write?" question.

In which your prose showed both flair and polish... and I expect and look forward to seeing more of your work.

Awesome posts! Thank you for giving this young brat some new things to think about. (...about which to think. :D )

Aaron

Young brat? Heavens no! Young perhaps but we all get over that too soon if you ask me. Never a sweeter bunch was assembled than the mail crew and friends can agree to disagree.

You've just not seen very much of the dark side, [if you'll let me rip off George Lucas.] My greatest wish is that fewer and fewer people will and that seems to be coming true.

That darkness is out there and it eats people up but acknowleging it is not the same thing as surrendering to it or cheering for it.

It should be, if it's written right, shocking and create an outrage in the reader. And, if I did my job right, some kid reading it will say- Holy crap! I'm not going to fall for that bulls*it.

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Why do I write?

As with most things, there isn't a simply answer to this. It is a combination of several items:

* I enjoy writing. It is a hobby that I have fun doing (most of the time)

* I enjoy receiving feedback from readers (even if they can be few and far between at times)

* I also use it as a release.

The last one needs explanation. I am a married man with two young children. I'm also gay. After I came out to my wife, and survived a crisis that threatened the marriage, we have agreed to stay together. My part in the deal is simply to obey my marriage vows and be faithful. My writing of gay fiction is partly a way of exploring and developing a part of myself that I will not be experiencing in real life -- a gay relationship. As a safety net, my wife reads (and critiques) everything I write. She also provides some useful input at various times -- especially in providing insight into the female characters in the stories.

That's a simple breakdown of why I write.

Graeme

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Fitzgerald and Meredith in their book Structuring Your Novel write that nine out of ten published first novels are about personal experience. I think this is because the best writing is often about subjects with which the writer is most familiar and about which he or she is most passionate. Few subjects better meet those criteria than one's own life. I think also that writing about personal experience is cathartic. It helps the writer put the past into clearer perspective. It helps the writer get to know himself better. As others have said above, its therapeutic.

I write because I have to, because I love it. The writing I enjoy the most, being a narcissist, is work about myself, or, at least, work inspired by my life and feelings. I find it more difficult to write about a subject that has nothing to do with me unless I find some connection, however tenuous, to my life, emotions, or feelings.

I hope this didn't sound pretentious! :)

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Fitzgerald and Meredith in their book Structuring Your Novel write that nine out of ten published first novels are about personal experience. I think this is because the best writing is often about subjects with which the writer is most familiar and about which he or she is most passionate.

Yeah, I think that makes a lot of sense. The first fiction I wrote, Groovy Kind of Love, was just a rewrite of my own life in the 1960s, and at least 50% of it was true (or inspired by real-life incidents). All the characters were based on people I really knew -- combining some people into one new character, using real-life names, or using elements from people I knew very well -- as well as real buildings, cities, streets, and places, and the lead character was a thinly-disguised version of me. Readers who knew Central Florida sent me congratulatory emails, but I chuckled because most of what I described was done solely from dim memory, since I hadn't been back there in over 27 years.

I went in a 180-degree different direction with my second novel, though, and decided to write about people I knew nothing about (contemporary teenagers), in a world I never had anything to do with (wealthy families in Southern California, and kids on football teams), doing things I never did (drugs, sex, wild parties, you name it). It was a stretch, particularly for the lead character, because he was such a radically-different character from who I am. It took a lot of research, particularly on details like the inner workings of football teams, or what it was like to get arrested for murder and sent to jail, but I think it was worth it.

I'm trying a different tactic for my current novel, which will be another teen story. The lead character is close to what I might be like as a teenager today, but sent back in time to a world totally different from anything I know about. Again, this is taking a lot of research, but the end result is the same: I'm writing about what I know, even though it's involves details I had to conciously learn.

Quick side-story: one of my favorite pulp novel series are the FU MANCHU thrillers written by Sax Rohmer in the early-to-mid-20th century. I was surprised to recently learn that not only had Rohmer never visited Asia, he was an almost-total recluse and rarely ventured out of his West Side NYC apartment! So here's a guy who wrote a couple of dozen novels about Chinese opium dens, crime in San Francisco, the lowlife slums of London, and many other major cities -- none of which he ever visited! And yet he makes each world seem vividly real, with all kinds of true-to-life detail. As long as you can fake that, it doesn't matter if it's from your personal experience or not.

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"And yet he makes each world seem vividly real, with all kinds of true-to-life detail. As long as you can fake that, it doesn't matter if it's from your personal experience or not."

One time I had need of a lawyer, and I consulted with him in his office. I was impressed and said to him, "You really seem to know what you are doing."

His response was eye opening, possibly because I was quite naive. "'Seem' is the important word in what you said. It doesn't really matter if I know what I'm doing in court, as long as it seems that I do to the jury."

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