Why Do We Write by Thomas Hoover
Why do we write? I think it's the original Facebook. We want to share ourselves with other people. I've published ten books without ever really knowing why. But here's how I went about it.
I grew up in a state you've heard of surrounded by horses and cows. My high school graduating class had six (6) people. I practically rode a horse to school. My dream was to be a scientist. There was a school career test in my junior year about what you wanted to do in life and it came out I wanted to be a writer. I showed it to my dad and said what a crummy test. ( A lifetime later I put my books up on Amazon for free and SYNDROME was the 14th most downloaded book in the world for about a week.) So what we're talking about here is a small gap in self-knowledge.
A science Ph.D. later, when the writing bug hit me, I decided to try non-fiction. I couldn't imagine making up stuff. It was a long haul (see thomashoover.info for details) but eventually I did publish two volumes.
This was important, because I was learning how to write, things like how to construct a paragraph, Start with a topic where you can focus on the mechanics and teach yourself craft. No matter what you write, you're going to need it. You are becoming an artist and you need to understand your tools, like a painter needs to understand water and oils and brushes and light and texture.
It was time for fiction, but I still had a crisis of confidence about invention. So I decided to write about stuff that had really happened. I'd just dramatize it. I got the hang of it in the first historical novel, THE MOGHUL (which did pretty well worldwide and got optioned for a miniseries twice) but by the second (CARIBBEE) I started to feel cramped and constrained. I decided I could make up things more interesting than actual life.
That two-stage process (non-fiction, then "historical" novels) did a lot for my craft and also gave me the confidence to imagine.
Anyway, that was my apprenticeship. I then took on topics that interested me, I selected things that were evolving and tried to jump ahead and speculate on what might happen next. (Sometimes I was too successful, like I predicted the 1987 stock market crash (SAMURAI STRATEGY) so accurately that publishers made me take back the manuscript (then in galleys) and change it because it was no longer fiction).
They say first novels are autobiographical, which is probably true. But be careful. Readers may not find you as interesting as you do. I think my early fictional protagonists were guys I wished I had been. They were an improvement on me. Well, we all need work.
Maybe that's the moral. Write to lie about yourself and vicariously live out your dream.
If any of this interests you, visit thomashoover.info for free books (the Kindle site recommended).
Finally, we all want to be immortal and hope publishing will do that. Well, it can, if you can get yourself on Google. They say that after the next nuclear war the only thing left will be cockroaches and Cher. They forgot Google. (try "Thomas Hoover" AND books ). Get on there and you'll become a digital cockroach.