Derek was inspired by another poet to write. Derek took his friend's advice and made good use with it. He began writing poetry vigorously. He began to publish his work in the school newspaper at W.C.S.U where many students and college professors took notice. By the end of his second year in Western, he, along with his poet friends, began to recite their work to an audience.
When Derek took an acting class as an elective in his third year at Western, he was assigned to write a short story surrounding the sensless shooting of an African American youth. When the professor expressed his strong interest on his project, Derek began to read novels in all genres. Even though a friend from high school helped spark his reading interest, his class and work schedule conflicted with any leisure time he had available. When he graduated from Western, he developed an addiction to reading novels, but wrote his poetry sparingly.
Years later, throughout all the short story and novel writing attempts, Derek lost his desire to write fiction and poetry because of the complexities that came with writing and the general intricacies in his life. After a lengthy writing hiatus, he wrote a poem titled "Runnin" that outlined a glimspe of his problems, but transferred those shortcomings onto a fugitive, the protagonist of the poem. Although Derek's issues weren't law breaking, he made them to be for the life of the protagonist. His desire to write peaked, deciding that the name of the book would be titled "Runnin." After writing a few chapters, he was noticing a lot of recidivism among the environment he grew up in, especially among his friends. He witnessed their struggle to find suitable employment in an unforgiving society, but watched them get caught deeper into the prison system for simply trying to make ends meet. He decided to change the protagonist from a fugitive to an ex-convict suffering the aftermath of being released from prison. Since he started writing about a fugitive, he started his story over, developing ex-convict Claude Porter and his bold attempt at living a legal life armed with a felon.