17 July 2019

Because It Isn't There

by Robert Lopresti

I'm going to give in to peer pressure and follow Steve Liskow, Michael Bracken, R.T. Lawton, and O'Neil De Noux in addressing the question: Why write?

* When I was in second grade I brought a pencil and notebook to school determined that I would write a new Winnie-the-Pooh story.  I remember my shock in realizing that I had no idea how to do that.  Why did I want to write?  Because there were only two Pooh books and that clearly wasn't enough.

* In sixth grade our English teacher encouraged us to write short stories.  I wrote a few spy stories (in slavish devotion to The Man From Uncle)  and Mrs. Sonin, bless her heart, would let me read them to her after school while she graded papers.  I hope to heaven she didn't listen because they were uniformly awful.  Why did I write?  Because I loved to read and wanted to add more stories to the world.

* While living in a dorm at graduate school I found time to write a novel, which I had the good sense not to submit anywhere.  I still have the handwritten draft but, as Robert Benchley said about his diary, no one will see it as long as I have a bullet in my rifle. Why did I write? Because I wanted to be a writer and I needed something to do other than study cataloging.

* At the same time I started submitting terrible short stories to magazines.  Why?  Because I thought I might have a career as a writer.

* After three years of trying I sold a story to Mike Shayne's Mystery Magazine. The rush I got from seeing my name in print gave me a reason to write for many years.

And other stuff happened, but that's enough.

Let's sum things up, shall we.  Why do I write?

As Thomas Berger said: "Because it isn't there."


O'Neil De Noux said...

Another Pooh book. Good ambition. Cool. I like these how we started posts.

Steve Liskow said...

Winnie the Pooh meets The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

Think about it. But maybe not for too long.

Your teacher who encouraged you to read your stories is worth her weight in gold.

R.T. Lawton said...

Rob, it makes perfect sense to me. Write what you want to read. If it isn't already there, then write it so it can be there.

Robert J Petyo said...

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. got m started, too. In high school I wrote a series of (awful) spy stories with characters named after my classmates.

Eve Fisher said...

I am so glad to know that so many of my compadres on this site also have a first novel that we will literally fight to keep anyone from seeing. I am not alone...

Leigh Lundin said...

Yeah! You're right, Rob. I like that.

Robert Lopresti said...

Thanks for your comments, folks. DO any of you other SleuthSayers want to chime in on this subject with a piece of your own?