Sharks Have to Swim; Writers Have to Write

From Wikipedia

During elementary school, I drew comic books in class. My first character was Outback Jack, a whip-toting bad-ass inspired by Crocodile Dundee and Indiana Jones. By the time I reached high school, I spent a lot of time writing and drawing comics. I came up with the brand name Power Comics when I was in sixth grade, and made business cards on printer paper. I even had a logo.

With the exception of Outback Jack and a couple of other characters, I didn’t have interest in continuing their adventures. I loved coming up with characters and writing their origin stories. I’ve always loved a good comic book origin story, even to this day. All told, I invented around fifty title characters. Many of them shared powers with published super heroes, but that has never stopped DC or Marvel from ripping each other off.

Looking, back, that is how I began writing. I felt a rush and kept seeking it. I used to think I started writing in college. I wrote a scene for video production my sophomore year and attended a screenwriter’s boot camp as a junior. But when I really look at my life, writing has always been there.

My parents used to make me write essays when I got into trouble. I enjoyed writing papers and essays for school, once writing eight pages on the definition of a bottle for a philosophy class. I spent all my time daydreaming about scenarios, fantasy and realistic. I read till four in the morning, until long after everyone thought I was asleep and the clip-on lamp on my headboard was so hot that I could not touch the off switch. I had to yank the cord from the wall.

We all need our ways to express ourselves. A writer writes because he can’t shut it off. I can’t sit in silence with any comfort. I have to have a book, a computer, a television, a radio, a conversation. I have to be thinking, doing, and creating.

A shark cannot stop swimming or risk suffocation. I can’t stop imagining for risk of the same. Writing is my outlet, the something constructive my dad always pressed upon me. Writing is my crutch when I am sad, my jubilation when I am happy. Countless words have been written during countless frustrations, and then deleted, their emotions purged.

In many ways, writing is a curse, an addiction. We can’t stop, even though we know we are likely doomed to constant failure and rejection with little chance of reward. If a baseball player succeeds in getting a hit only two out of ten times, he is cut. If a writer succeeds in getting published two out of ten times, he is a professional.

I used to write because I thought I had talent. I wrote because I had ideas. I re-wrote in hopes that those ideas would outlive me. Now, I write because I don’t know what else to do. I write because when I don’t, I feel lost. I write to find myself.

Jack Campbell, Jr. is a dark fiction writer in Lawrence, KS. His writing has appeared in various venues including Twenty 3 Magazine, Danse Macabre, and Insomnia Press. He writes about reading, writing, and life on his blog at

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