My Addictions (2)

Continuing my catalogue of addictions:

Early in childhood, along with music and piano playing, I discovered reading. I learned that books offered information, insight, entertainment, and a means to grow intellectually. I read everything I could lay my hands on, and the local library got to know me. I was most attracted to fiction. I knew instinctively that even though I was reading stories that never happened, these tales gave me insights into real life in a way non-fiction couldn’t.

Reading has stayed with me all my life as a favorite pastime. It has led to book reviewing which I now do regularly. That craft also taught me to read more carefully, knowing I’d be called upon to tell other readers about new books.

And that brings me to my greatest addiction: writing. By age six, I already knew that my vocation was writing. Throughout the first third of my life, I tried to escape from it. I studied dancing, acting, music, languages, and leadership. By my early twenties, I had a family and needed to support my wife and children. Writing didn’t pay, but signals intelligence did. I studied Vietnamese for a year, then spent thirteen years constantly in Vietnam, exploiting North Vietnamese communications in support of U.S. forces. After escaping under fire when Saigon fell in 1975, I went on to other escapades that I can’t discuss because they’re still classified.

Through it all, I wrote. I retired as early as I could to write fulltime. Most of my writing was fiction about Vietnam, a subject not popular among American readers after 1968. So much of my output never saw print—until 2012. As a new generation of Americans came along and wanted to know what happened during that war deemed so shameful, my writing started to sell. Now I have seventeen short stories and four novels in print with two more books due out next year.

But I don’t write to get published. I write because I have to.

So there you have my addictions—weight lifting, music, piano, reading, and writing. Each has enriched my life.

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