For the Love of Writing
A book is not necessarily good or bad just because the Literary Mafia has blessed it. ~Don Pendleton
If you dig into most of my books, you’ll find they’re pretty tough pieces. I don’t tend to pull any punches about the way life is or how I perceive my own daily challenges. You see, I write from my heart and gut—I spill my inner turmoil onto the page like I’m overturning a 55-gallon oil drum—because I want to get a certain message across. There’s no taboo in my writing. It’s a safe place to “speak” my mind. Some will agree with me. Others won’t.
But you know what? That’s okay, it’s fine really. Because what I’ve finally learned about writing hours and sometimes days on end to finish a book, and having now produced something like forty published novels, is there’s plenty left in this writer’s inspiration well. I don’t need a muse—I am the muse, damn it. But I’ve had to come to grips with the fact that I’m not going to turn myself into a romance writer or SF/F writer or anything else in which my heart’s not in it. For any writers who deem themselves more self-aware or might be looking at me like “DUH!” don’t jump too quickly to judgment.
What I love to write is action-adventure (love to read it, too). It doesn’t matter if it sells anymore! I don’t need the money. Frankly, I’d write and publish it all for free but it’s a good enough sideline I can earn coffee and beer money, or take myself to the movies without dipping into the house funds. So all the better I can get a little back from the sweat. But I “retired” a couple years ago thinking I wouldn’t write anymore, and all I was really doing was stepping away from the professional side of things. The joke was on me, though, because it was a job offer to churn out one more—at least, I’m assuming it’s the last—novel in Don Pendleton‘s The Executioner Series that brought me out of my delusions about what being a retired writer meant. Yeah. I guess I’ll get all the retirement from writing I want when I’m dead.
But the real point is that I’ve had a number of projects I started. I just couldn’t finish any of them. I’d get maybe a hundred or a thousand, or even ten thousand, words written—then it was just like someone threw a switch in me. I didn’t have anything else to say. I panicked. It felt like I’d died inside, consigned to a fate as a talentless hack with nothing more to contribute. That’s because somewhere along the way I’d stopped writing for the love of writing, and started writing to markets, for the fortune and glory, to bloat my already big-ass ego. My reasons for writing had become tainted with thoughts as far from the whole driving force behind this enigmatic craft as any individual can conjure.
And it tormented the shit out of me.
I even wrote and published a couple of books in other genres (like Christian fiction), and readers flat rejected me. Apparently, I’d violated some precious rules in what I could write about. As if somehow, shutting my eyes—and theirs—to the ills of this world made it so they didn’t exist outside the page. Now who wants to read that kind of story? I sure as !#$% don’t. I want to know what others I read think about stuff and how they’re getting by, and their hopes and aspirations for a happier world, a better tomorrow. I want to read stuff where I can hope and dream, while simultaneously I can say, “Yeah. That really pisses me off, too! Sometimes life sucks!”
Frankly, I could’ve spared myself a lot of pain if I’d just followed the sage advice of another writer:
This above all, to thine own self be true. ~William Shakespeare
And so I sat down in earnest a couple weeks ago and began to work on THE VINDICATOR! This is the story of a U.S. Marine who grows tired of the criminal element in America preying on the innocent. The first book will be titled Detroit War-Zone.
This series pays homage to the paperback action-adventure novels of the 1970s, the kind of stuff I came up reading. Mostly because those books instilled in me many of the values I think are admirable in any man worth his salt: God, family, duty, and country. And I’m not trying to be a copycat or regurgitate other storytellers before me. We don’t live in a time where it’s okay to be a mimic, and we never have.
I’m doing this because I must, and this is the medium in which I’m most comfortable telling stories. But mostly, and there’s no getting past this, because there yearns deep in me the desire to be a genuine storyteller. I’m going to pull back the layers and get down into what makes me me. And I don’t give a damn who approves or doesn’t, or if it fits into someone’s idea of a specific market. Those folks don’t have to read it, this “glorious trash” that has the temerity to not pull punches, or exposes the worse society has to offer those of us just trying to get by the best we know how. You see, I’m mad as hell at what’s going on around us and I need a way to express that. This is it.
By the way, the fact this kind of fiction is making a comeback with places like Wolfpack Publishing makes no difference. It only served to reinforce the idea I was having trouble completing those other works because I wasn’t going my own way. As a writer, I must always rip off the mask and not try to hide behind the words. Instead, I should let the words work in me, to weave my own creative vision through the dense content and put the drama on the page in the best, simplest way I know.
So on February 20, 2018, I’m going to introduce Nate Helson, a.k.a. The Vindicator, to my preferred audience. I hope you like it. Even if you don’t, that’s okay with me because I did it for love of the writing. It made me happy! And what reader doesn’t like a happy ending? Uh… literarily speaking, of course. 😉