I have known since I was six years old that I was born to write. Not to write would be to invite damnation.
And in recent years, the importance of helping others has become dominant in my mind. All my life I have volunteered to work for the good of others. For five years during the AIDS crisis of the 1980s, I worked with men dying of AIDS. Over a period of five years, I helped seven men, all gay. They all died. Then for several years I worked with the homeless. Next I spent seven years working in a hospice helping the dying. Through it all, I discovered that, unlike most people I knew, I could face death and minister to dying people. I had, after all, repeatedly faced death on the battlefield in Vietnam.
Then for a period of years, as my books began to sell, I was so busy with writing and presentations and readings that my volunteer work came to an end. I, in effect, stopped helping others and devoted all my time and strength to writing.
Now it’s time to return to helping others. I’ll certainly go on writing, but I’ve also volunteered to work in a hospice with the dying.
Wisdom, an active virtue, dictates that I use my remaining years for the good of others. One way to do that, strangely enough, is to write. People can learn from my stories and novels and improve their lives. Equally strange, helping others in the hospice will enrich my writing with experience and, most important, wisdom.