Why and How I Write (3)

Revision and polishing take up the majority of my writing time. I often go through as many as ten drafts before I’m satisfied that I can’t improve a story any further. That means that I’m a slow writer. Fortunately, I’m also, these days, a full-time writer. I have the time I need to do the best I’m capable of.

Despite all that, I find that as I read my published work, I occasionally come across passages I’d like to improve on, especially in work done some time ago. But I have yet to revise and republish earlier work. I have too many new stories in my head demanding to be written.

Two more of my books will be published next year. Both are drawn from my own experience—fiction in name only again. They’re called Secretocracy and Coming to Terms. The first is based on happenings long after Vietnam. The second, a collection of short stories, does not mention Vietnam, but my experience during the war looms over the stories told.

And two more novels are in my head hassling me to write them down. One, provisionally named Josh at the Door, tells of a couple in their eighties having a passionate affair. The other, so far unnamed, takes place during the 1967 battle of Dak To in the Vietnam highlands. Both are impatient to find life in print. I won’t find peace until they on paper.

I read that other fiction writers start with an outline which they flesh out and revise before they put words to paper. Not me. My way of finding and creating stories is far too intuitive for a process that orderly. I sometimes think that the way I approach putting pen to paper is bringing order to the chaos my imagination presents me with. Yet everything I write about really did happen.

I don’t understand how it works. I don’t need to. That it works is enough.

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