Friday Speak Out: Why I Write, Guest Post by Susan Remson

Friday, February 12, 2010
Why I Write

by Susan Remson

I never really retired. I just stopped working. After forty-five years of work, including all the years while raising my family, I was ready. Over those years, my jobs ranged from my first as a Christmas gift wrapper to Operations Manager of a clinical laboratory. A few years ago, when my husband’s work took him to different cities for extended periods, I decided to accompany him. I quit my job, and except for the lack of income and the social life work had always provided me, I was not sorry. But what would I do with my time?

It was about then that I heard a speaker ask folks on the verge of retiring, who were dealing with the same “what will I do” question that I was, “What did you like to do when you were a child? What gave you pleasure when you were eleven or twelve years old?” The speaker went on to suggest that whatever that activity was, retirement might be the time to go back to it.

When I was a child, I loved to write.

So I began writing again. I had written in my professional life, but that writing was all technical. I journaled, too, but I began to write essays and short stories. I wrote fiction and non-fiction. I wrote poetry. I took classes. I went to workshops. I spent hours reading writers website. I read books about and by writers. But when people asked me what I was doing now that I wasn’t working, I couldn’t yet say, “I am a writer”. I didn’t feel like a writer; I felt like a wannabe.

When I finally got up the courage to read at a writer’s conference, I was terrified. I know my voice was shaking when I read my brief essay. In my piece, I compared my son’s life with an afghan my mother had made for him, and told how his life, filled with substance abuse and antisocial behavior, and the afghan were both unraveling. I pondered whether either of them would ever be whole again. When I finished reading, the room was silent. I remember thinking to myself, “Well, Susan, so much for being a writer”.

But I was wrong. I later learned the room was silent because of the impact of my words. Afterwards, several women came up to tell me how they could relate to what I was saying. Their words delighted me, and saddened me, too, because it meant that others were dealing with the same issues that I had been only a few years earlier. Still, if I could touch someone with my words, I was happy.

Their comments also made it possible for me to say, “I am a writer.”

Since that time, I have shared, in writing, other experiences, including stories about my mother and her knitting, my son and his struggles, and my daughter and the year planning her wedding. I write two blogs. In one, I am sharing my thoughts on being 64 years old and “muddling through to Medicare”. I also have thick file of short stories and essays, and two half-written novels.

These days, I have no problem calling myself a writer. I still love to write, now more than ever.

* * *
Susan Remson is retired from a career in health care and biotechnology and now devotes herself to her writing. She lives on the shore of Lake Michigan in Kenosha Wisconsin . where she writes two blogs. In Great Lakes Views ( she comments on environmental, political and cultural issues of the Great Lakes . When I’m 64 ( she is documenting what it is like to be a woman of a “certain age”.


Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!



Margo Dill said...

Why are we so reluctant to call ourselves writers? It's crazy, isn't it? About 3/4 of my income comes from freelancing right now, and whenever anybody asks me what I do, I still swallow hard and say, "I'm a writer." Is it because of that look of disbelief on the person's face or surprise like "a real writer is standing before me?" Really? Or is it the test that comes next, "Well, what do you write?" the person always says. When I answer, they say, "Well, good for you." Do we say that to doctors? To lawyers? To air traffic controllers? I don't, anyway. I never say to someone after they tell me about a career, "Well, good for you." Anyway, I could go on forever, but great post--and I think a lot of us struggle with calling ourselves writers! So good for you! ;) (Couldn't resist.)


Kim said...

Good for you! Thanks for writing about your experiences, and validating yourself as a writer.

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