Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Five "W"s: Part Two

Following the publication of my third book in as many months, I've been fielding a plethora of questions about writing:  Who, What, When, Where, and Why.  In yesterday's blog we took up the question:  Who do you write for?  And in this installment, boys-n-girls, I'll answer the question:

What do you write about?

Answer: Most every writer has heard the adage:  "Write about what you know."  For me, however, this has always been only part of the what I write about. I do write about what I know . . . or what I think I know.  But I probably write a great deal more about what I'd like to know, or what intrigues me, or what I need to learn. 

For example, in the past two months I've written four articles for an outdoor magazine.  These published pieces have been about:
* Charter fishing in lake Michigan
* Collecting antique fishing lures
* Ice fishing safety
* Best methods for storing fishing equipment through the winter

But the truth is, I know nothing about any of these subjects.  I don't fish.  Heck, I don't even own a fishing pole.  So, how do I write on these subjects?  These questions intrigue me and are compelling enough for me to research, inquire about, and then compose articles on these subjects for other fishermen.  (They are great articles, if I do say so myself, but I've never actually done any of them!)

Those who deal with my writing are generally frustrated by my writing.  This is because I write about most anything.  In the past three months I've had two books published about breast cancer and one book of personal faith reflections.  But I'm also writing a book of poetry, a very big book about the historical Jesus, a book on wine, a book of manly humor, a book about legends, a book on sports, a book on the American presidency, and a book on wedding venues.  (And this is only a partial list!)  I also have several novels in tow, and by year's end I'll come very close to having 100 essays published in 2013.  This is not a bad year's work.

Now, in case you are wondering, but when do you have time to do all of this writing? . . . you'll have to read tomorrow's blog (that's another "W").

But it is the What that keeps me writing, and has kept me writing most days since I was twelve years old.  What I write about are the ideas, thoughts, or pictures that enter my dense skull.  Some of these ideas keep me up nights.  Some of these ideas compel me to rise hours before sunrise.  Other ideas compel me forward at the keyboard hour-after-hour, through pot-after-pot of coffee and pounds of black licorice (or going days without food and water like a camel).  

There are also ideas that propel me through dozens of library books, or through dialogue, or multiple revisions.  What I write about are situations and characters that inhabit my mystery stories, or science fiction tales, or even some of the romantic stories that my wife doesn't believe I write, stories with rich and heavy-breathing dialogue like:

"You are the wind beneath my wings," she whispered.

"And you fill me with a deep and aching hunger," he sighed.  "And by the way, do we have any more of those hot wings in the fridge?" 

This is only a part of what I write, however.  Most of what I have written will never be read.  A part of what I write is what I hope one of my six readers will want to read.  What I write about is like that.  It is like this.  Or it is about nothing at all.

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