Editor’s Note: This post is the third in a series that features former students of mine who have become professional writers. I asked each of them to focus on the topic, “Why I Write.” Today’s post is by Bill Torgerson, whom I first met when he was one of my writing students at Olivet and who is now an award-winning screenwriter, novelist and writing professor. His first novel, Love on the Big Screen, is set at a fictionalized Olivet in the era when Bill and I were there. (To see the first post in this series, by Dr. Michael Clark, scroll down or click here. To see the second post, by John Small, scroll down or click here.)
Five of the Eighteen Reasons I Write
By William J. Torgerson
Professor Joe Bentz was the first person I ever knew to be actively working on a novel. When I was his student at Olivet Nazarene University just south
of Chicago, I was an English teacher who wanted to be a basketball coach because I’d long understood I couldn’t play professionally. I had no plans to write, but I’d heard that Joe’s house was wallpapered with notes for his book.
As a country kid from Indiana, I found Professor Bentz’s ambition exotic, as if he were a space traveller who’d gone to Mars and come back to tell me about it. Professor Bentz was the first person to encourage my writing. I wrote an essay in his class about a bad date, and he told me I should send it out for consideration for publication. Over fifteen years later, a revision of that essay appeared in my first novel. Upon receiving Joe’s request to write this guest post, I was quickly able jot down eighteen reasons I write. Here are five of them:
- To Stand Out. Even when I used to think of myself as worth noticing because I could shoot a basketball from a long distance and make it go through a hoop, I was an everyday writer. At first, I wrote because it was a way in addition to basketball that a girl would take notice of me. Even though I’ve always thought of myself as a latecomer to writing, I realize that even as a middle school student I wrote (by hand on paper!) regularly for a specific audience: a girl I liked. I revised like an obsessive-compulsive madman.
- For Mental and Physical Peace. I have a high-octane mental and physical motor. There’s something about intense workouts and at least a page a day that allows me to get as close as I can to relaxing. When someone asks me what I do for fun, one of my first thoughts is that I run. Writing gives me a mostly positive act toward which to direct my addiction prone energy. When I write, I am somehow able to empty my mind just enough to get some sleep.
- Because I Can’t Stop. I received Prof. Bentz’s request to do this guest post via my iPhone at 5:08 PM when I was wandering around an outlet mall and my family was doing some school shopping. I could not stop Continue reading