Why I write

Thanks for dropping by my website. I’m guessing you’re here to learn a little more about me, so here goes. A question I’m often asked is how and why I write. I never set out to be a writer; fate drove me to it and I’m entirely self-taught. Much of my childhood was spent lost in books, visiting strange places and far-off lands through well-thumbed pages, that seemed as real to me as the world I live in now. Fiction, was my first love, back then, and I learnt from and was led by the best: Ian Fleming on a wet Saturday afternoon, Robert E. Howard on a drizzly Sunday, Stephen King on a moonlit Monday if I wanted to scare myself to sleep.

And on and on it went, reading day and night…

Adolescence brought new challenges and the arrival of my second love: non-fiction. She soon eclipsed the first. Giddy realisation hit me that real-life stories were every bit as powerful, and flesh and blood heroes every bit as real, as their fictional counterparts. Truth was, indeed, stranger than fiction. I read scores of biographies, memoirs and true-life accounts, devouring tales of Olympic athletes, obsessed mountaineers, lost explorers and Oscar winning actors.  There was a common theme in these true stories that appealed immensely to the struggling teenager inside; a theme of overcoming difficult circumstances with endeavour, victory and success. And a willingness to break the rules, defy conventions and not just ‘follow the crowd’.

Regardless, I kept on reading, kept on absorbing…

Adulthood brought another flip and my reading focus shifted again; in childhood it was all about fictional heroes; in adolescence non-fiction and real people; but now a new restlessness struck. It was time to stop reading and start doing. Time to put the books down, apply what I’d learned from them – especially the non-fiction – and start living my own story, rather than always reading about somebody else’s. I didn’t stop reading altogether but I greatly slowed it down and made a herculean effort to start ‘doing positive things’ that moved me. There was no great design to it but as the years rushed by and triumphs, tragedies and achievements of various sorts piled up my transition from childhood bookworm to adult adventurer was complete.

I kept on living, kept on experiencing…

Maturity brought a distant siren calling me back to books. Before long it became an irresistible wail. Realisation hit that this time it would be different; this time I wouldn’t be reading someone else’s words but writing my own. Telling not just my story, but the story of others’ too. Writing stories that if I didn’t tell, then nobody else would and they’d die with me, lost in the mists of time. Responsibility and purpose weighed heavy on my shoulders. Just as my instincts had previously told me to ‘stop reading and start doing’, now they gave me a newer, urgent command: ‘stop doing and start writing’. And so, I did, voraciously, applying everything I’d learned in a short but intense life, thus far.

Every writer has a different journey, a different path to publication.  There’s no magic formula, but if I had to sum up mine it would go like this:

Firstly, I read; secondly, I lived; thirdly, I wrote.

Thanks for stopping by my site and taking the time to read my words.

Best wishes,

Steven McLaughlin

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