One night over dinner, my good friend Craig, a terrific photographer, asked me why I write so much. My immediate reaction was to say, "Because I can." My measured reply was more to the point: "Because I have to."
This wasn't always the case when Craig and I attended USC.
Forty years ago, I was a young congressional staff assistant on Capitol Hill. In those days, Richard Nixon was trying to bring an honorable end to the Vietnam War. He also was fighting with the U.S. Civil Rights Commission — a fact I could not ignore. So what did I do? Uncharacteristically, I wrote my first letter to the editor. To my surprise, the Washington Post printed it word for word.
Buoyed by this success, I found myself writing another letter the following year when Lyndon Johnson died. I had moved back to Laguna by then, so reading my letter in the Los Angeles Times was a big thrill. Having neighbors respond to my thoughts was equally exciting.