Poets & Writers

Why We Write

Nature is as well adapted to our weakness as to our strength. —Henry David Thoreau

LIKE most writers, I consider myself reasonably self-aware. I do believe the unexamined life is worth living, but it’s not a life I’d care to live, at least not as an adult. Yet I’d managed to work on a novel nearly every day for five years, and it never occurred to me that the emotional hardships, the traumas, I was running my characters through were so plainly, and painfully, my own. About a month before a publisher acquired my first novel, The Standard Grand—a novel that concerns a large cast of characters, civilians and veterans, fighting through trauma and its aftermath—I was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Which came first, the writing about traumatic stress or the traumatic stress? It’s an insincere question. Me being flippant. A way to delay—yet again, and for just a little while longer—writing something I’ve never before written, not without the

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