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Why I Write

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I write for two reasons. The first is a personal one: of whatever skills I developed in my lifetime, reading and writing have been the absolute best. And second, of all the cultural achievements by humankind throughout history, reading and writing have been the absolutely most outstanding.

As is delineated in my new book, On Being a Conceptual Animal (Hominid Press), my greatest solace and means of opening up my world has been reading, from my earliest to my latest years. How I would have arrived to a ripe old age without that support, I have no idea. And so very early on I decided that the greatest creative activity of a human had to be writing.

But since the second love of my life became anthropology, I spent my work years teaching and writing about the cultural achievements of humankind, mainly in an academic mode. And though the stucco colored walls of academia, along with multitudes of delightful students, were pleasures in themselves, I could not keep from writing as an end in itself. Moreover, I then had a marvelous new message, the pleasure of anthropology.

So somehow I would repay some of the debt that I owed from all those wonderful writers that I had read, and continue to read. So at night and after serious illnesses and divorces and other sad times, I wrote and wrote. And when I reached retirement with far more funds than I ever planned on, I began to publish popular anthropology/history. The first two have been On Becoming Human and Takeover: How Euroman Changed the World. My latest book is On Being a Conceptual Animal.

There is still a trunkful of manuscripts. I shall bring them out annually until I become decrepit — in the meantime rejoicing that men invented tools, that printing was invented, and that reading became democratized.

Arthur Niehoff of Hominid Press is an author/publisher of popular anthropology/history books. His first title, On Becoming Human, presents the prehistory and history of humankind in a popular format. His new book, On Being a Conceptual Animal, discusses the particular way that humans think using symbolic concepts. Niehoff can be reached by phone at 760/728-8123 or by mail at P.O. Box 1481-32, Bonsall, CA 92003-1481. For book orders, call 800/616-7457.

This article is from thePMA Newsletterfor January, 1998, and is reprinted with permission of Publishers Marketing Association.

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