An Artist in Search of Beauty

I admit it. I’m an artist. Through and through. I knew at age six I was born to write, but I tried other arts to see if I could escape my fate. I trained to be a dancer. I studied to be an actor—my major during my first year of college was theater. I worked hard to become a musician and composer. I took a BA in music at the University of California, Berkeley; wrote and performed reams of church music; and taught myself how to play the piano and guitar. I even took a course in conducting and led groups of musicians.

For a number of years, I put art aside altogether and became a linguist and spy—I had a family and needed to support my wife and children, and art doesn’t pay. I was helped by an inborn flare for languages. Then, as I moved up in rank and was assigned subordinates, I led them rather than managing them. I had learned the difference while working with the military on the battlefield during the thirteen years I spent mostly in Vietnam. I was so good at helping my followers be the best they could be that I kept getting promoted until I reached the highest executive ranks in the government.

But in the end, my fate was sealed. The written word wouldn’t leave me in peace. I had to write. And since I was a born artist, I had to write fiction. So I retired as early as I could from the government and devoted myself fulltime to writing. I now have six books and seventeen short stories in print.

Even so, I cheated. Instead of making up stories to tell, I wrote about things that had actually happened. I turned the tales into fiction by attributing things that had happened to me to fictional characters. The critics caught on. They accused me of writing fiction in name only. I plead guilty.

All that said, I haven’t given the reader an accurate picture of what it is like for me to write. I choose to make writing an art. The challenge is to make beauty with words. My sense is that I have succeeded. But that is not for me to judge. Only my readers can decide if I have accomplished my mission. From what they tell me, I conclude that they have forgiven me for writing fiction in name only and enjoy my work. I couldn’t ask for anything better.

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