So You Want to Be a Writer?

Dear Friends,

I believe there’s a tickle  inside every person’s throat that yearns to cough out a book.  We all would like to share our inner creativity and develop a beautiful story, a humorous play, a thrilling crime novel, a meaningful book of poetry, or a children’s book that will be adored.  Many people want this but few achieve it.  Why is that?  Well, for one thing writing is hard.  It requires commitment, discipline, courage and a fairly well-developed set of skills.  We’d all like to be on Oprah’s Book Club list but few of us will make it!

So what does it take to write, really write with the intent to have a book of some ilk published in some reasonable amount of time?  I don’t have all the answers to this question but many people have asked me about this.  Here are some possible answers based on my experience.

  • Writers are different.  Early in life, I knew I was different from my peers.  I was shy, studious, spent two to three hours a day practicing my piano, and would just as soon read on a hot sunny day as to play outside.  Each summer,  I snuggled into a comfy chair on my cool, shaded, screened-in, side porch for my annual read of “Gone With the Wind.”  I was only nine years old when I started this!  For four years, I read this behemoth-like novel about issues that my young brain could only begin to process.  I plowed through the Negro dialect with fascination. Those are some of my fondest memories.
  • Writers have to read early in their lives and read with encouragement.  I was so fortunate to have a mother who insisted that my sister and I read.  Every week, she took us to the Carnegie Library where we could check out seven books.  The next week, we returned those for seven more and so the cycle went.  It was as much a part of our daily lives as eating dinner.  How blessed and fortunate I was.  I read and read and read and always found it easy and fun.
  • I was a top student in my highschool with English being my strong suit.  In college that became my major, and I had dreams of being the English teacher that I had so respected.  I went down that path, but times changed; and teaching became a struggle to make even the slightest dint in a different generation of young people.
  • Then life threw me its first curve ball, and I found my personal life devastated and all of my dreams destroyed.  It was then that writing became the cheapest form of counseling on a pitifully slim budget.  I started writing poetry and keeping a journal.  Every rough spot I’ve encountered in my adult life has been endured with the help of pouring out my soul on a piece of paper.  I’v had a lot of rough spots so there’s been a plethora of writing!
  • Now, in my later years, I realize that life has an end in sight.  The light at the end of the tunnel becomes brighter and brighter.  I want to stay engaged, productive, busy, healthy and stitch my life’s quilt up until the final day.  No matter what changes, who leaves my life or who enters it, I want to have a full plate.  When I can’t play golf anymore; when I can’t travel anymore; when I can’t even go for my daily walk anymore, hopefully, I can and will still write!
  • I realize that I’m not done yet.  I’m forging a legacy for my grandchildren.  I have more to give; I have talent inside me which I refuse to let go to waste; I have energy to move mountains if I choose; I have so many reasons to give back a dose of the good fortune that’s been given to me.

This is why I write.  And, if you want to be a writer, make sure you know your reasons just as definitively as I do.  If you don’t, writing will be doubly difficult and unfulfilling.  If your reasons have anything to do with money, fame or power, go into something else like politics…ha!

All good writers know their place in the world.  It’s not to be forced but gently acknowledged.  It’s not to be touted but delicatley demonstrated.  It’s not to be pompous but dignified.  It’s to be gracious, grateful and generative, hopefully making the world a better place.