Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Hard Work of Writing and Other Necessities of Making It

Over the years, I've been fortunate to converse with some of my favorite authors about what makes or breaks a writer. One such dialogue occured with Vermont College faculty member Margaret Bechard during pursuit of my MFA in writing for children and young adults.

On the dark day in question, I sat in front of my computer in tears. My packet was due in less than a week. I was 10 pages short. And my muse was running me in circles. Then Margaret's email arrived.

"How are you doing?" she wrote. "Are you getting excited about next semester?"

The exchange went on from there, until we found ourselves on the subject of writing, specifically the hard work of writing day-in day-out, especially when life conspired. Feeling particularly gloomy that day (probably because E was home for something like the third week in a row), I shared an insight I'd had about the hard work of writing.

"This business," I wrote, "feels less about talent and more about persistence."

Her reply went something like this: "Writers need to know how to write, but in order to succeed they need something more: patience and persistence."

Margaret then shared a story about a writer she knew who was phenomenal at her craft, but for whatever reason never published. Reading Margaret's email between the lines, I could hear her regret that the writer's voice had never been heard publicly.

The story struck a chord with me, so much so that I've made connections between it and my own process ever since. Writing is hard work. Keeping it a priority is often more difficult than anything else I'm asked to do. So why do I stick with it? Certainly not for the money.

1. I write because if I didn't do so my characters wouldn't shut up.

2. I write for the high that comes from crafting a scene that sings.

3. I write for the rush I get after completing a piece, and knowing it feels right.

4. I write because doing so gives me insights into my own hopes and fears.

5. I write with the dream that someday one of my young readers will love my story so much they'll get yelled at for trying to read it at the dinner table.

Current read: Bras and Broomsticks by Sarah Mlynowski.

1 comment:


Hi, I just wanted to leave a little footprint on your blog to let you know that you are read and you are loved. Hugs and kisses from far far away.