There is so much to write about writing. And that’s because writing is such a big part of our communication with the world around us. Although I have always enjoyed writing, looking back, I can say that I’ve always written more as a hobbyist than as a “professional.” Not that I never sought publication but that, until recently, I never considered myself worthy of being a professional writer. This could be because I didn’t have adequate knowledge about writing or publication, enough self-confidence, or that I just wasn’t interested enough…all things worth considering.
Last week, I mentioned I would talk in my next blog about the before and after writing experiences of being published. As I look back over my writing life, I can see where I could easily have become a published writer (of a book) a lot sooner than I did. I have writings from years ago, many are complete poems, essays, or short stories. It is only now I can see they were good enough to be published way back when. But without guidance – someone to help me understand that writing the ABCs and learning grammar was entirely different than writing down my head thoughts, dreams, or ideas – my writing, as an occupation, didn’t have a chance.
Writing in Grade School
In grade school, most of us get caught up in learning to write: how to write the ABCs, how to write a sentence, how to read, and how to pass tests. We aren’t usually trained in being a “writer,” if we even knew, at that age, that writing for publication was or is a thing. I mean, who at six years old says, “Gee, I really like practicing the alphabet, I think I’ll be a writer.” Or, what eight-year-old makes the connection that someone wrote the textbooks we’re learning from and that we, too, can write books and says, “I think I’ll be a book editor, printer, book marketer, or publishing agent when I grow up.”
So, we progress through school, learning and fine-tuning our handwriting, sentence structure, and starting to create paragraphs and short stories. And every once in a while, a student who makes the connection, or truly grasps and loves all that is involved with writing and creating stories or has an amazing imagination and has realized the benefit of writing to get their story ideas down on paper, will persevere despite no encouragement from anyone. They just excel at it. And some, with the support and help of an amazing teacher, figure out how to become published. It’s these classmates I would’ve loved to have been associated or best friends with. I don’t know if my writing life would be more improved than it is now, but maybe.
Writing in High School
Once in high school, the required research papers introduce even more writing personalities into the world of writing. Some young writers become involved with the school newspaper – in writing articles, editing, or graphic design – or with the production of the school yearbook. Others take an interest in photography, capturing and having their photos of clubs, sports, and activities, featured in these publications.
And, as students graduate and choose college majors, some find themselves being interested in becoming librarians, journalists, research analysts, and in other fields where writing is or will be a big part of their career. Without even being aware of it, the world of writing is enlarged and anyone with a love of writing can pick and choose where to focus what they write about and how they write: creatively, technically, and now even digitally.
Writing Before Being Published
Before writing and publishing my first book, my radar was never fully on writing for a living. Somewhere in my past, I had read, heard, or been told that I couldn’t possibly make a living with my writing. And I believed it. So, being that I needed to support myself as quickly as possible after graduating high school, I pursued the easiest way to support myself and that was in clerical administration. Although my jobs over the years have required writing, I was quick to notice that I loved doing projects with creative design which involved such things as creating posters, flyers, and small publications, and that from the start I never enjoyed writing business letters. In fact, I was absolutely relieved when, shortly after marrying, hubs took a job out-of-state, and I joined him right before being promoted to a correspondence team in a corporate office. I was so relieved as writing business letters, which I considered dull writing, was definitely not my cup of tea.
Also, a big part of not considering writing as a career was my lack of self-confidence in my writing skills. I was always amazed when people would tell me they enjoyed an article I had written, or a poem, or a short story. But, since I couldn’t make money at it – enough to make a living – or so I thought, I never focused on writing as a future career option or even for part-time income. I spent my extra time sewing, making greeting cards, heading up newsletters for family or groups, or being involved in volunteer opportunities. If I had known then what I know now about embracing writing in my life, I would’ve started sooner to spend more time writing – and staying organized about it. Right now, my writings are all over the place, some packed away in bins or boxes, awaiting my discovery for consideration of being published one day.
Writing After Publication
Had retirement not come calling at my door, I may never have started writing for publication. I wanted a part-time career I could do once hubs and I moved from city to country. I didn’t really know what being a published author meant when I first started out. But I did know that if I was going to take a chance to find out, it was going to have to be now – which was then. Now is almost three years since I started the rough draft for my first book. I published it thirteen months later, and I’m hoping my third book goes as quickly. Book two is now on its fourteenth month and not fully edited yet. But I’m learning everyday life has a way of taking precedence, especially amidst a major move, building of a new home, and acquiring of a one-month-old fur-child who is growing into a massive watchdog but, at six months old right now, is full of excess energy.
Most important, since publishing my first book, I’m taking writing more seriously. I know. I just remarked publicly about how can writing be serious or not. And I go back to my original stance: we are all writers. Whether we’re artists or architects or lawyers or doctors or auto mechanics, we all write. But, if we are referring to a writer as someone who loves to write stories, essays, how-to articles, or books, then perhaps as I’ve said before, we should come up with a better term for writers. You know, to tell the serious ones apart from those who just write to fulfill the requirements of a job or to complete a form. Serious writers, as a hobby or a profession, should probably distinguish themselves as such, more for themselves than anyone else. And so, as a now published writer and author, I’m finding that one needs to constantly assess their chosen writing or career path. If writing doesn’t bring joy, maybe a change in occupations or in a niche is in order – just like any other career choice.
Now that I have published more than an article in a community newsletter or a poem in a church publication (wow, a real live book!), I’m more focused on my writing as a source of joy and creativity. In ways, writing has become a part of everything I do from marketing my first book to writing and editing my second book to writing blogs and articles to planning and re-planning future writing and marketing strategies. And, whereas writing seemed to be more ominous in my past in regard to publishing and sharing my thoughts and ideas with others, it has become something of a best friend. If I’m not writing longhand or typing, my mind is constantly swirling with ideas and how to write them into a meaningful message to share with the greater world. And so, I’ve become more confident in sharing my thoughts and ideas with everyone versus just writing them off as something less than important.
But, as a writer, reader, crafter, and even a clerical admin specialist, I have a tendency to be all over the place. I can’t be happy with being good at one thing. Just like all my embroidery threads and beads for creating my lap blankets or my many papers, envelopes, and colored pens for letter-writing can overwhelm me after a while, so can all my writing topics. So, I recently erased my writing notes, tips, and reminders from the whiteboard above my computer screen. And I have now started writing on it all the topics I really want to write about. Despite this shortened but still lengthy list, and the idea of finding that one niche to specialize in, I’m hoping writing about several genres will be a good thing after all. You know, like Linda Ronstadt sings different types of songs and sounds wonderful no matter the song. But then, every writer can only know, for sure, by being unceasingly in tune with our inner writer.
I wonder. Where you are on your writing journey? Are you a hobbyist or a professional writer? Are you a blogger? Are you an every-now-and-then writer – like I used to be? Or have you always had pen and paper in hand? Do you write articles about a certain topic? Have you written a book? What genre? Wherever you writing interests are, I wish you much success and hope that something I’ve shared today will be of use to you. We can all benefit from one another’s journey and insight. I know I always appreciate reading how someone has gotten from point A to point B or C or even Z. Please feel free to comment or at least hit ‘like’ so I know you dropped by and made it to the end of this blog post.
Have a blessed day and keep on writing…and enjoying writing!
Yours ever, Virg
Next week, and for the month of May, my blog post topic will be on motherhood. I will post three times:
- First Week – about my relationship with my momma who had me when she was fifteen;
- Third Week – as a mother to my only son, who was a miracle child – or so I was told by one of my doctors; and
- Fifth Week – as a mother figure to a few of my younger sisters, a few nieces, and a few other wonderful young ladies in my life.
Remember to check out my first book, if you haven’t already….click here for more information.