WordPeddler on Why I’m a Writer – January 16th

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an article from our Featured Author

Jeff Thomson

Why am I a Writer?

Why am I a Writer?

During all of the thousands of interviews Stephen King has given over his decades-long career he has almost invariably been asked one question:

            Where do you get your ideas?

He would try and answer it as best he could, but you could tell he was clutching at straws until he finally came up with what is now his stock response:

            From the guys in the cellar.

In the first place, the answer is quintessential King. In the second, he craftily sidesteps the question, altogether. The truth, I suspect, is that he has no idea. In fact, on those few occasions he actually provides a serious answer to the often-asked question, his response is simply:

            What makes you think I have a choice?

Naturally, in keeping with my own sense of self-absorption, I agree. Not that I’m comparing myself to him, mainly because I’d be laughed at and justifiably heaped with scorn and derision, but I agree, nonetheless. More to the point, I know myself to be, beyond the shadow of a doubt, utterly clueless about the source of mine. Oh, sure, I can come up with some approximation of specifics when asked about an individual story, but mainly in doing so, I’m blowing smoke and sunshine straight up the questioner’s backside.

The ideas come to me. I don’t know how, I don’t know why, and, quite frankly, after five decades of writing, I’ve given up asking. Still, it plagues me sometimes – those moments of self-doubt when I begin to question my sanity. I don’t end up with any answers there, either. Probably best to leave it well enough alone.

But we’re not here to leave well enough alone, are we? We’re here to try and figure out why some of us are writers and some of us are not. You know who I’m talking about. How many times has someone said to you, I’d love to be able to write a book one day? Let’s face it, if anybody could write simply because they wanted to, then everybody would have their own book. Thankfully, they do not. There’s enough crap out there as it is, thank you very much.

No one from this group, of course. Here it’s nothing but real, honest-to-goodness writers, and man oh man do we rock!

Anyway . . . Where was I?

Ah, yes! Why am I a writer?

Well, okay. I’m a writer because I write. I sit down at my laptop, or I scribble with a pen in some random notebook I’ve got laying around. I put words to paper in a (hopefully) cohesive fashion that makes sense. Simple, isn’t it? Doesn’t really answer the question, though, does it? No. I guess not.

I’ve been writing since I learned to form complete sentences. There are those who might suggest I still haven’t learned how to do it, but I don’t listen to them. This does not, however, answer the question:


It doesn’t explain why I’ve spent the last fifty-plus years sitting alone making marks on the blank page and hoping like hell that what I’m writing makes sense. It’s speaks not a single syllable as to why I put myself through the frustration and panic and self-loathing and crippling doubt. So, what does? What is the answer?

If I am to be honest – and that’s why we’re here, after all – then the answer is:

            I write because I can’t not do it.

Yes. I used a double-negative. Bad Writerboy! In this case, however, it works. Why? I honestly have no idea.

Maybe it is the guys in the cellar, after all. In my case, they’re named Jack and Jenn and Dungeon Dan. The Thorazine bills are astronomical. This still explains nothing, however, so I’m left with the same conundrum as the esteemed Mister King. Why am I a writer?

            What makes you think I have a choice?

About the Author

A fourteen-year veteran of the USCG, Jeff Thomson served as a navigator on four different ships and as SAR Controller at two Group Operations Centers. He is currently retired from his life as an over-the-road truck driver, which was not the most conducive writing environment, and yet, he managed to write the majority of his first novel, a bit of his second, and a chunk of his third, using his steering wheel as a desk. He is now writing full time (on an actual desk), and currently working on the second and third books in his Epic Mayhem series.


Unfortunately, we lost Jeff this year.

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