Through it all, I found time to play and listen to music. I composed reams, headed three different church folk groups (including one in an American church in Vietnam), and wrote two masses for chorus, folk group, organ, guitars, and wind instruments performed by the local Catholic church in the parish I belonged to in the U.S.
And I wrote stories and completed my first book of fiction. Because I had spent so many years in Vietnam, my short stories and novels told of the war there. But for decades during and after the war, the American public condemned U.S. combat in Vietnam. Readers had no interest in my stories. I couldn’t find publishers for my work.
Then, well into the 21st century, a new generation of Americans came along. They didn’t oppose or condemn the war in Vietnam; they wanted to understand it. I began to receive invitations for presentations and readings. Publishers accepted my books.
I now have six books, 17 short stories, and several nonfiction articles in print. For the first time in my life, I am spending less and less time listening to and playing music. The major reason is that writing takes up so much of my time—I’m receiving more and more books for review; I post to this blog every day; and I’m working on two new books of my own.
That said, several times a week I find myself drawn to my incomparable piano. The instrument itself is a masterpiece, with the most beautiful sound I have ever heard from a keyboard instrument. So I allow myself to play a little Bach and Mozart. I even indulge myself by playing my own compositions.
But after that, it’s back to my life calling and first love: putting words on paper. As long as I am able to write, everything else will take care of itself.