Writing is Bizarre

(As posted by Julie Hedlund at the end of the 2022 12 Days of Christmas for Writers)

Writing is bizarre. Being a writer even more so. Today I took a printed copy of a manuscript on my walk, found a spot by the creek, and wrote and revised right on the paper.

If this manuscript becomes a book, it might change someone’s life. But if it doesn’t become a book, then what? What happens to the words then? What is the POINT of having written the words if nobody but me will see them?

Because the words have changed ME, and I am a person in this world hoping to make a difference for everyone I encounter. Writing forces me to think deeply about what is in my heart and soul, what I see in the world, and to put down on paper what otherwise might be left unobserved or unacknowledged. By challenging myself, I grow, and that growth enables greater contribution to the world.

Writing is magic. You take a thought or a feeling in the abstract and put it into form. The words are seldom (never?) perfect, but the attempt to make meaning out of the ephemeral is a step toward finding new and better words that get you closer to what you really want to say. Eventually, those words may touch on something universal that exposes a piece of our global soul. Words create connective tissue between human hearts. Even if they never appear in a book. Even if nobody else ever sees them.

So for all my writer friends who feel like they aren’t writing enough, or writing well, or writing anything that will make a difference, know this: You are. You absolutely are. You are a magician.

12 Days of Christmas for Writers- Year 2

Children’s author Julie Hedlund, challenged participants of her 12 Days of Christmas for Writers series to post SUCCESSES (rather than resolutions) on our blogs this year. She believes the way New Year’s resolutions are traditionally made come from a place of negativity – what DIDN’T get done or achieved in the previous year.  Instead, she suggests we set goals for the New Year that BUILD on our achievements from the previous one. I decided to participate in this Anti-Resolution Revolution! Here is my list for 2022:

I stuck with 12 x 12 for another year, and joined other 12 x 12ers on CrafterNoon CrafterZoom, a fun and funky monthly Zoom meeting where writers do something other than writing, while chatting and catching up. I decided to use that time to sketch and draw. One month, I made a necklace, which is another hobby I enjoy as much as writing. This is a fun way to meet people from all over the world and learn how they find the time to write.

I got several critiques from Katie Davis in the Writer’s Block. Katie keeps me honest! I love her blunt commentary, and while I didn’t have as many manuscripts to submit towards the end of the year, I still learned a lot about first drafts, using words well, and how to get to the point of the plot. I will continue this in 2023.

I participated in NaNoWriMo for the second time, in November. My book: part 2 of a memoir. More details on that later…

I joined SCBWI for the first time, and even found an in-person critique group and met with this group a few times. It was fun, exciting, and scary. Isn’t it always that way when you put your words in front of other people?

I called myself a writer. Every day.

On to 2023: I will: continue with 12 x 12 for my third year; join CNCZ when I can; keep subbing and seeking critiques; continue with SCWI; call myself a writer – every day.

I will keep writing.

Ponderings in the month of 60

Well, I turned sixty last Saturday. Finally having our house remodeled to the point at which to entertain is comfortable, we threw a small get-together to celebrate this milestone birthday. It was just warm enough outside that guests could sit around the fire (with coats on) and listen to my son’s band play on the patio. We ate like royalty, enjoyed the company of family, neighbors, and friends, and all around had a good time.

Then Sunday came, and I learned that a woman I’ve known for fifteen years died of cancer only diagnosed in March. She was my girls’ dance teacher and a legend in Toledo. Even though my girls long ago stopped taking tap and ballet lessons, Karen Niewiadomski will always remain in my heart as one of the kindest, most patient, and talented people I’ve ever known. Losing her was like losing a family member.

And so it goes. I keep on writing through all of it, taking time each day to put pen to paper or fingers to the keyboard and get some thoughts down, or a story line, or a rough draft. Something. Anything. I know that one day, it will pay off, someway.

Snow in February

February is a unique month for me. It has the fewest days in any month even during Leap Year (which makes this Ohioan happy since most of them are cold!); it is my ‘workiversary’ on the 7th; and it is the month I start to think about spring, even though weeks and weeks of winter weather are yet to pass. But something about the sun and its position in the noon sky gets me to thinking of warmer times.

This year, I’m thinking about spring in a way I’ve never done before: will the world be normal any time soon? Will I go back to the office at least a few days a week? Will I see my clients, coworkers, and friends on a somewhat regular basis? Will I be able to travel with abandon, not worrying about hopping into my car without a mask or five?

Right around this time of year, I start to become excited about new writing projects. My motivation to sit down and write for hours kicks in. So, at this moment, I’m happy it’s February! (Oh and tomorrow is Super Bowl Sunday!)

Pressing the “Send” button

Well, it’s been a quiet week-end in my house. If this sounds a bit like the beginning of a Garrison Keillor monologue, perhaps its because I just finished reading his latest Lake Wobegon novel The Lake Wobegon Virus. And reading Garrison’s writing, with its simple storylines and understated humor, always inspires my own writing.

As the leaves sprinkled the still-green lawn, I spent time submitting three short stories, two to one magazine, called Kaleidoscope, and the third to another, called Soul Fountain. I tweaked my query letters, neatened up the manuscripts, and pressed “Send” three times. It’s a good feeling! (Even if I didn’t rake one leaf to the curb.)