We are in the middle of a drive for new authors for our legal sites Documents Online and Precedents Online. We already have a few, we are seeking more. This search for new talent has caused me to ask why we write at all. Why does someone become an author?
Writing can be difficult, frustrating and time consuming. Yet we writers come back to it again and again. I have just come back to the keyboard after a ‘slump’ of several weeks. I found myself asking: why? The answer is relevant to me and those authors I am encouraging.
I found myself looking back in time to when I first became published. That was in 2009 and I answered an advertisement of a well known legal publisher at the time. At that time the economy was in the grip of the GFC and I was seeking to stimulate demand among clients. It worked. I became a best selling author for that publisher, made thousands of dollars in royalies over the next few years and my legal practice has continued to be a success. Yet I recall my first interview with that publisher’s representative. She asked me whether I had written something before and whether I had been published. My answer was that I had. I had written a short electronic book on how to choose a lawyer and published it as a free download on my website.
When I thought about it, I also had a number of manuscripts saved on my hard drive in various forms of completion. My writing career started even earlier. I found myself remembering homework assignments from primary school in creative writing. We picked a topic as a class, and we each had to go home and write about it. I remember one assignment which involved describing the most horrible way to die you could imagine. The results the next day were really funny, as the classroom of predominantly eight year old boys let their imaginations run wild imagining the most hideous and macarbe endings their twisted little imaginations could conjure.
And I remember doing this homework assignment and – loving it. I didn’t think about the time it took to do, I just enjoyed sitting there at my desk, diving deep into my imagination and putting the results down on paper. Reading it out in class the next day was both nerve wracking and exhilarating. I was scared to read my story to the class. What felt comfortable writing down in the privacy of my room the night before, felt like baring my soul the next day. The excitement I felt on hearding the laughs, chuckles and guffaws of my classmates pure joy. I was hooked.
I have enjoyed writing since I could learn to write. The topic is not so important. Nor is the audience. I do not always expect anyone to read what I have written. It is something I do for myself.
I am reading a book at this moment on my phone written by a long dead roman philosopher called Seneca. The book was originally written down on scrolls over 2,000 years ago. But for references to the Colliseum and Gladiators, it could be a self-help book written two years ago. It is remarkably wise and well written. I am sure he too asked himself why he bothers to write. I am just glad he did.