An Essay on Why You Should Write
A friend recently asked me about my passionate drive to write. To compose original short stories. Pure fiction. So, let me preface my reply with a succinct response: Writing seems to be a dying art.
We all know why. It's the computer. It robs us of simple pleasures. When did you last receive a handwritten letter? One written by a former student once taught by the nuns? A work of art. It takes the author extra time and effort to give you the "gift" of their effort.
President Ronald Reagan wrote many such letters. He never forgot to write our brother-in-law a congratulatory note on his birthday. They both shared the same birth date. (Our brother-in-law was then Clerk of the House of Representatives.) You may also not know that President Reagan wrote notes to the chairperson of his movie fan club for over 30 years.
So I say, don't let the computer become your crutch, your reason to adopt the lexicon of "computerese" or to become the excuse for the loss of your most personal gift. To give respect to a friend or newly acquired acquaintance, a handwritten note is very special!
Now, I was never a book reader. I was a musician and had little time for book reading. English 101 and English 201 were not my cup of tea. Fast forward through college and law school and suddenly I was retired. I still had golf and my music, but I also had many stories about animals, birds and politics lurking in the recesses of my mind.
I can't recall the exact trigger that sparked my first stories, but I was a beginner - at age 80! At first I wrote children's stories for adults. For the elderly. For grandfathers and grandmothers to tell their grandchildren. For inmates in the warehouses where so many seniors seem to end up.
I initially wrote true stories. Then fictionalized versions. Then fantastic stories of animals, who became "heroes," in numerous imaginary exploits of fantasy. Then, I found I could create beauty out of pure imagination. Often my heroes are downtrodden but end up performing heroic acts. They became literary heroes of the mind.
I began to write compulsively. I tried to write something every day. Practice does tend to produce near perfection. And so, I have written fictional stories about police officers, soldiers, politicians and many other heroes.
My stories have become like children. They are my "kids." My "heroes" and my pure pleasure. To know them is to love them.
So, I challenge everyone to write, compose, invent and entertain your audience. Even if you have no audience, you are sure to entertain all who might listen to your dramatic reading of your work of art.
I guarantee you will at least entertain yourself. You will watch less TV and turn off the computer more often. You will be forced to think, create, imagine and release the sleeping giant in your mind.
So try it. Not only is it possible that you will find writing relaxing, but you may even startle your friends and family with your stories.
It is up to you to begin to write. What do you have to lose? Make it your best effort. Give us a real treat!
Gene Murphy has been a resident of Fairview Park for 58 years. He graduated from Case Western Reserve Law School in 1951. Along with writing, Gene plays the trumpet in his "spare" time.