Archive for February 2011
If You Write, You Are a Writer
I remember the day a published author said, “If you write, you are a writer.” That was an eye opener to me. She was speaking to a group of wanna-be writers at a writers’ conference. With that comment she instantly gave us permission to think of ourselves as writers. It took a while, but I gradually began to respond, “I’m a writer,” I responded when someone asked “What do you do?” Always before, depending on what stage of my life I would respond, “I’m a teacher or administrator,” or “I’m a decorator.” It took courage to begin saying “I’m a writer.” I felt like an imposter. Everyone is interested to meet a writer. Of course, I had to brace for the next questions, “What do you write?” and “Is it published?” “Where can I find it?” In the beginning I was writing personal essays. That response usually killed their interest. With more experience and focus to my writing I began writing a memoir. “I’m writing a memoir,” usually evoked a faint smile and a changed subject. No one wanted to directly say, “So what’s so special about your life?”
After attending writing workshops and joining writing groups I felt more like one of them—a writer. I designed business cards with my name and address and WRITER boldly printed under my name. By doing the cards on the computer, I could add information as needed. One of my first writing endeavors was writing a column for a local newspaper on decorating—a topic taken from my profession as a decorator. I added WRITER/COLUMNIST to my business card. Newspaper editors are eager to have new column ideas. Write what you know and share it whether it is your hobby or your profession. You feel like a bona fide writer when you see your byline in print.
For one of my writing groups I volunteered to write a monthly newsletter—The Collective Connection—with writing tips and member news. Writing groups are wonderful support for new writers. I recommend joining or starting a writing group. I became a member of The Tennessee Writers Alliance and attended their conference. I added member TWA to my card. As a member of The Council for the Written Word, a writing group, I submitted a story for an anthology and had it accepted for publication. With that accomplishment, I proudly added AUTHOR under my name.
Publishing is not necessarily the goal of every writer. Writing for many is simply for their own pleasure. For some, as Pulitzer Prize nominee poet Stellasue Lee says, “writing is like breathing, I have to do it.” She breathed life into two recent poetry books, Crossing the Double Yellow Line and Firecracker Red.
If you enjoy writing, write. If you write, you are a writer.
YOU SHOULD WRITE A BOOK
I guess almost everyone has thought about writing a book. It has been my intention forever; I always loved to write. Though I had no idea what I would write about, there it was tucked in the back of my mind—the goal to write a book some day. Writing a whole book of fiction seemed daunting—still does. I was better at writing about life experiences or taking an idea from reality and embellishing it into a fiction piece. Something like television shows do with story lines—taking an idea right off the front page.
As the years went on and I got older, my plan of one day writing a book became just a line on my “bucket list” and not even near the top of the list. There were many days in the convent—especially in the novitiate—as young new entrants breaking rules and getting into trouble, we often commented that “we should write a book.”
One day I wrote a story about my experience of surviving a tornado as a child. I joined a group of people interested in writing who offered critiques at a Barnes and Noble book store. It was a group of new writers, many like me, wondering if what they wrote was considered any good. Experienced writers critiqued the work of anyone brave enough to read their stories. I took the plunge and read my tornado story. The idea might have been good, but the writing was limp. Even so, the group gave me an encouraging critique. I continued to edit and rewrite the story. Rewriting is a way of life for writers. As literary agent Noah Lukeman says, There are no good writers, only great re-writers.
After sharing experiences of my convent life with friends, the mantra became, “You should write a book.” And so more than five years and many rewrites later the manuscript is complete—FROM MONASTERY TO MATRIMONY. I can cross that one off my “bucket list.” Getting a book published is the next line on the list. I’m making progress.