While I was away from the paper for a couple of weeks, several people came up to me at the Destination, my favorite coffee shop where my friends and I meet every morning. They ask why there was nothing written by me for the paper recently. Good question.

Some folks call it writer’s block. There are other excuses, also. As for myself, there are times when I just don’t feel like writing and couldn’t put two words together to make sense. It happens to us all.

Those who read our material have expectations and sometimes get quite upset when we don’t perform up to expected standards. There is an old adage which says you don’t really appreciate what you have until you don’t have it. Hello! All of us, journalists or housewives, depend on the written word for our daily existence. Every instruction, notice or convenience begins with a writer. In that sense, we are all writers in one sense or another.

That prescription the doctor gave you. Written down. Price tags in stores. Written down by someone before a printer gets near it. Our very existence depends in some manner upon a writer. Textbooks, fiction, non-fiction, recipes or travel brochures. There is a writer involved at some stage of the creation.

Even your entertainment media begins with a writer: Movies, television, radio, etc. We are inconvenienced when the power goes off or water stoops. Somewhere a writer is involved with how such events are handled. Instructions are written down by someone.
Unless you are writing million-seller novels or runaway song hits, writing is not going to fill your coffers with gold. Most professional writers are underpaid for the time and effort they put into the craft. Agents and publishers hack into your profits. That’s why so many writers of books today are turning towards self-publishing. That used to be preferred to as “vanity” publishing. Sort of like paying out your hard-earned cash to say, “Hey, look at me. Ain’t I something?” Today we look forward to ways to keep more of the money we earn without sharing it. Dean Koontz once told me, as to my books, “Get a lawyer, not an agent. You only pay the lawyer once for his work.” Sound advice, but we all get ripped off until we are what they refer to as” established.”

So why do we write? Ask anyone who writes for a living and they will tell you, “I do it because I love being creative, or something close to that. We just do it like a musician loves to make music. Most writers write because they have to. It is in their very essence to do so. If we weren’t paid we would do it for the privilege of putting words together to create something. One of the first thing anyone learns is how to write. A great columnist, Walter Winchell once told me that writing is all about putting one word after another and making sense. Sage advice.

Writers have a creed, or maybe that’s just the way I see it. Our job is to inform, educate and entertain, but not necessarily in that order. We wouldn’t have it any other way.

Oh yes, people buy newspapers and magazines for the written content, not the ads. That’s why advertisers pay big bucks to get their product featured in the most-read publications. The public buys for the stories, not the ads.

We moan and complain like everybody else, for one reason or another, but love of the art is what we work for. We do it for us and for you. Just sayin’

Rusty Strait • Senior Reporter

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