Why I Write

Fiction as Truth and Self-Help

Why I write:
Friends and co-workers have often mentioned they like the way I write and encouraged me to write something other than office memos and reports. Now my grown children have gotten into the act: Dad, you should write about surviving childhood in South Chicago, your time in the service, the important and interesting work you have done. We and your grandkids should be able to find out about you, about how you lived.
So I did. And since readers still tell me they enjoy my writing, I persist.
How my book changed my life:
My first novel and my short stories are fiction, but in addition to what I hope is enjoyable reading, they tell my story. Someone once remarked that often the best and sometimes the only way to tell the truth is with fiction. I took that advice to heart, although my Irish relatives on my mother’s side of the family also observed many times that an Irishman never lets the truth get in the way of a good story. The question other authors have told me always comes up at readings and the like is: How much of your book is true? That question does always come up at my readings, and my answer is usually about twenty percent, but deep down I think all of it must be true.
I wrote thinking that my novel and future writing would satisfy the needs of my heirs to learn about me, and as the pages were filled I discovered I was also learning about me.
How my book might change the lives of others:
Having reached an age at which I no longer go to work every day and have to rely on my wife’s earnings, savings, investments and Social Security – in short, geezerhood – and noticing people don’t pay much attention to what we older types have to say and feel it’s necessary to constantly remind us of things we already know, I’m delighted to note that writing affords the opportunity to express my thoughts and ideas in a way that might not glaze listeners’ eyes or induce immediate naps.
If they can’t see how old the guy is that the words are coming from, they might actually enjoy them and learn something along the way.
What I would say to someone who can’t read:
As for those unfortunate souls that can’t read, I offer one of my Grandma Murphy’s Laws: If you can read, you can do most anything. This is sound advice if someone is available to read this to you and follow up with helping you learn to read. But be careful. Following Grandma Murphy’s Law on reading has occasionally backfired, often at inconvenient times. For example, on Christmas Eve while trying to decipher instructions on assembling the gifts to place under the tree.


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