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Why I Write: A Reflection

Updated on June 20, 2010
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Dohn121 is a freelance writer who currently resides in the foothills of the Shawangunk Mountains of New York's famed Hudson Valley.

My 50th Hub

Having reached my 49th Hub and completing the 30/30 Hubchallenge, I thought about maybe taking a week off or so, basking in the satisfaction of a job well done and just laying myself off on writing more Hubs. But then I wanted to do something special. I wanted to celebrate somehow, so after some thought, I came up with this idea: I wanted my 50th Hub to be somewhat special and a reflection of my time here at Hubpages so far.

For those of you who know me, you know that I like to write. When writing my fictional pieces, I take pleasure in creating my characters, dressing them up a little, maybe give them a splash of Old Spice or Chanel and then shove them into the jaws of unmerciful hell. Funny, sometimes I feel like I’m a character in some writer’s novel that is still in the works! I like that I can make them say or do anything I please. I can make them have credit card bills, student loans, a living-beyond-their-means-mortgage payment…I can make them delinquent on their bills. I can make it so that my character has no real issues with his hunky-dory life and fly off to Bora Bora on the wings of a Gulfstream G550 with some gorgeous dame he just met at a cocktail party, just by pressing down on a few keys: It’s that easy—clickity click—only to have that same jet crash land on a desert island (and like always, the pilot, cute stewardess and any other minor character dies). Out of desperation, both guy and gal would then have to decide on whether or not they want to be eaten by the other or have it the other way around—I’m just that devious in that manner! This is one of the reasons why I love to write: I get the opportunity to create.

After losing my job of three years unceremoniously back in early 2008, I was faced with a huge challenge. While working, I put every fiber of my being into my job in middle-management, oftentimes working seventy-plus hours a week. I’d won some of my company’s most prestigious awards and for a time, was its most consistent regional sales leader having reached the top echelon an unheard of 34 consecutive months. When I was let go, I didn’t know what to do myself. “This isn’t in the script,” I said to myself. “I didn’t plan this.” But something happened from then on. I went back to writing my novel after having put it off for three full years. I had a bit of money left that I’d saved from the job and so made up my mind to finish up what I started so many years prior.

Writing My First Novel

For the next six weeks, I was a writing machine. Just like during the time right after college graduation (I majored in Creative Writing by the way) I jumped back into novel-writing mode again. I’d wake up pretty late—about nine in the morning (rather than five-thirty like I used to) put on a pot of coffee and turn on my computer while sitting in my swivel chair while clearing my mind. For the next two-and-a-half to three hours, I’d write. During that span, I didn’t pick up the phone or do much of anything else, besides sip on my coffee and go out for the occasional cigarette (yeah, yeah, I know). During which time, I did not stop until I had at least 500 words. Often times than not, I’d crank out much more, like 2,000 words if I was really “feeling it,” one might say.

After doing this for about an hour and a half to two hours, I’d spend perhaps another half hour or so doing some quick editing of the previous day’s work. I did this everyday without missing a single day for the next six weeks, during which time I cranked out a total of 40,000 words. At the end of six weeks, I had a total of 113,000 words which equates to 452 double-spaced pages (I still have a lot of editing to do). I finished my first novel on March 6, 2008. Not ever before in my life had I been more proud of myself than when I completed my novel currently titled, “Yellow House.” I’d accomplished exactly what I had set out to do back in the fall semester of 2000, which was to finish a novel.

I was in awe that I had finished my novel ahead of schedule, as I really thought that it would take me at least two full months or so to complete (since restarting it). I made great strides to finish and knew that nothing would stop me from reaching my goal. When I first started, my third rewrite of my novel back on March 1st of 2001, I already knew how my autobiographical novel would end; I just didn’t know how it would begin.

Writing the first 50 or so pages was very difficult, as I had to revise and rewrite it several times before I was satisfied with the product. If you have not read, “If I Had Wings,” please do, as it is the precursor to my first novel that inspired me to continue on my journey to fulfilling my dream. My family and I came to the United States in 1980. For almost a year prior to doing so, we spent 11 months at a Thai refugee camp to escape Communist persecution in our native Laos. To me, writing my novel about my family’s experience was not only the greatest undertaking I’ve ever endured; it was the most important. I am currently working on another novel titled, “I, Fraternity” and a novella that I plan to finish by the end of October. Since completing my first novel, I find writing other novels to be easier now, especially when tapping into my stream of consciousness.

I've also written a hub to help those seeking to Write a Novel and Find the Voice Within. I hope to see you there!

Things Do Happen For a Reason

Out of five children in my family, I am the youngest and was the first to attend college. My family and I risked our lives to come to the States, having traveled 10,000 miles to freedom. I challenge anyone to tell me that we did so in vain, as I love this country and will never forget where we might be presently had we not come here so many years before. We left behind so many of loved ones, our kin whom we’ve known all our lives and left our home under the cover of darkness without telling any of them beforehand of our plight, so as to not compromise their safety nor our own. Our plan to leave Laos was the most difficult decision my father ever made on behalf of our family. I believe wholeheartedly that I owe my life to my mother and father and writing our family’s novel is the best way I know how to honor them and cherish a memory that seems today an impossible dream.

I was devastated when I lost my job and so were my parents. It was in fact the first “real job” I got since graduating from college. I felt that I shamed them and felt ashamed for failing at my career. Looking back now, I don’t regret it, not one bit because it was the best thing my company ever did for me, as they inadvertently provided me the opportunity to finish my novel and for that I thank them.

Why I Write

Since the age of fourteen, I’ve been keeping a journal. For long stretches of time, I’ve written everything that came to mind. I found solace in my journal writing. Whatever it was that was bothering me—whether in my heart or my mind—writing drew out the poison that was trying to consume me. Writing was a passion to me then and is still a passion to me now. Writing is a release and with each writing session, I always feel better than when first I began. Writing is my freedom, my right, my life…I once heard this line and I do apologize if it belongs to you and was not given your due:

“Sticks and stones will break bones, but words will break a heart.”

This line certainly struck a chord in me. I learned at an early age that words are powerful and have an unlimited potential to either harm or heal a person—that they can be soothing or damaging to the right or wrong person, that they can be descriptive and convey emotions…I wanted to harness that same power. I wanted to tell a story or two and share it with everyone willing to listen while being as honest as I could—I wanted to do this for a living for as long as I’m alive. I’ve heard that only the top two percent of all the writers in the world actually make enough to earn a living and that pursuing such a mode of living is futile. Apparently, I don’t care as I’m going to give this “writing thing” a shot.

“What do you want to do?” My college advisor asked me, at the end of my sophomore year in college. I had yet to declare a major and had to settle on one, per the Registrar’s Office. After thinking about it for a time and shifting in my seat while looking all around her office, the thought suddenly struck me:

“I want to change the world,” I told her. I’ve certainly found my niche.

© Copyright 2009. All Rights Reserved.

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