Why do I write books? Why do I spend hours at my computer creating lengthy stories? Today I like to see my books sell, as does any self-respecting writer, but that wasn’t the reason I started out as a writer.
It all started in my mortgage-paying days, when I was an air traffic controller. As high-pressure jobs go, it ranks well up the ladder. If a top brain surgeon makes one mistake, one patient could die. If an air traffic controller makes one mistake, a thousand people could die. It makes your eyes water just to think about it. I have worked alongside controllers who succumbed to stress-related illness or alcoholism before they reached the mid-point of their careers. I have worked alongside colleagues under pressure who died of a heart attack before they collected their pension.
My method of coping with the tensions of the job was—to start with—the relaxing pleasure of painting pictures. After a gruelling period on watch, I would settle down at an easel and quietly paint away my stress. No one suggested or expected I should make money out of it. They recognised that I did it simply for the calm recreation it afforded me. Later, I took to writing for the same reason. Instead of creating pictures in oils, I created them in words. And it worked for me as a way of wiping away the bad after-effects of the job. I’ve had a love of books from my childhood so maybe it was a natural step for me to move from painting to writing.
Today, when the pressures of ATC are behind me, I can concentrate on writing books that will sell. But that’s not how the whole thing started.