Writing Beginnings

Wednesday, April 26, 2017
When I was 13, I fell in love with writing.

I think I was 15 or 16 when this
photo was taken... Notice that
forehead that's so big, I rented it
out as a walking billboard. Now
do you know why I always wear bangs?

I wasn't the kid who wrote stories filled with talking tigers when I was six or eight years old. I wasn't interested in writing because I had no clue that was even a possibility to consider. Sobbing at the end of Charlotte's Web...Inhaling Nancy Drew books I got from either the bookmobile or garage sales--I loved reading, but doing the same thing E.B White or Carolyn Keene did? It didn't even occur to me.

I had this book when
I was 10 or 11...

In 7th grade I snagged a spot on the school newspaper and immediately proved myself enough that I was named editor. I got to write features along with ensuring every piece was mistake-free and had the right number of column inches. (Sometimes, size does matter.) Making people laugh over my screw-ups made me proud.

Back then, the lines were pretty well perfect the first time around... at least semi-perfect considering it was a pimple-faced kid who was crafting them. Thankfully I had teachers who balanced the shallow stuff I was serving up with mind-blowing poetry. Paul Simon. Crosby, Stills and Nash (and Young, of course). Joni Mitchell. Cat Stevens. Carole King. Charles Dickens.

Cat Stevens--around 1972... He would have
been mine except for women like Carly
Simon (who reportedly wrote "Anticipation"
about Cat Stevens)

"What!" you say? "Dicken's ain't no poet." Au contraire! The beginning of Tale of Two Cities sure sounds like poetry to me. In Mr. Miya's class and then later, in Mr. Gates' class, we studied the rhythm, the alliteration, the metaphors, the symbolism of the folk singers and various novelists.

Before you can write, you have to kneel down and worship at a bunch of altars. For me, it was Sandra Dallas. Emily Dickinson. James Agee and Walker Evans' Let Us Now Praise Famous Men.

 Fast-forward to around thirty forty almost fifty years later. Now, I do write. I've fallen in love with other writers, But am I a writer?

I  wonder and I pondered that--pondered it hard--after I read Lynn's post.

Lynn Obermoeller is a true writer. She writes every day. She reflects upon her writing and her craft. She does such methodical and consistent things when it comes to writing, I'd call writing her second religion. Really.

Thanks to my work as a teacher and thanks to my critique partners, I've fallen in love with the act of writing. But... I need to find a way to sustain that love.

Howboutchou? Are you a writer? What makes you a writer, and what can you do to become even more entrenched as a writer? Pondering minds (like Sioux's) want to know...

Sioux Roslawski  is a writer whose stories can be read in 15 Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies. When she was a teen, she thought she was a writer as she dabbled in humorous feature pieces and angst-filled poems. Now, she knows all that she doesn't know... and realizes she's working on becoming a writer. If you want to read more of Sioux's stuff, check out her blog.


Sue Bradford Edwards said...

How to know if you are a writer? Find out how the men in my life have categorized you. Are you a writer friend? A book club friend? Choir? Sioux, Margo and all the WOW ladies are writer friends!

When my job disappeared something like 25 years ago, there were no kids. So my husband suggested I "try writing." He now reports that I am "ruined for any other job."

I'm lucky because this is how I make my living.

Sue Bradford Edwards said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sue Bradford Edwards said...

Oh, and for those of you who don't know, the men are my husband and son. "Where's mom going?" "To see her writer friends." "Book club friends." That's their way of knowing where to find me and when I'll get home.

Cathy C. Hall said...

I thought "Anticipation" was about Warren Beatty...Also, I need to go listen to Cat now. :-)

It was a long time before I called myself "writer." But once I felt like I'd ...I guess the word would be earned...that title, I wore it, though not comfortably.

I'm not sure if I ever will, now that I think about it. But I don't choke on the word "writer" anymore when people ask what I do. So I suppose that's progress. :-)

Cathy C. Hall said...

Oh, wait! Maybe it was "You're So Vain" about Beatty?

Yeah, I think that's right. I loved both those songs. Now I have to go listen to Carly, too. :-)

Margo Dill said...

Well, I've always subscribed to the if you write and call yourself a writer, you are a writer.

I wish I would write every day.

Renee Roberson said...

I like to think I'm a writer, since I do cash regular paychecks for my work. But I'm still not the kind of writer I really want to be (NOVELIST). (Also, I had a lot of BAD poetry in my early days, too!) Thank goodness for the English teachers who exposed me to the good stuff--T.S. Elliot, e.e. cummings, Emily Dickinson, Edgar Allan Poe, etc.

Val said...

I don't consider myself a real writer, even though I write every day. I don't make money from it, so it's my little hobby.

It all started in college, with letter-writing. My friends clamored for them, which fed my ego, and created the long-winded monster I am today.

Sioux Roslawski said...

Sue--If I'm at home on a Tuesday or Wednesday, my husband says, "Isn't this a write-y night?"

Cathy--Cat. Carly. Those are singers that can take me back to when I was 13.

Margo--Me, too. I wish I had writing as seamless part of my life.

Renee--A novelist. That's what I want to be, too. Maybe we can both work on it...

Roberta said...

I've been writing since I could hold a pencil in my hand. I can still remember one of the first lines of "dialogue" I ever wrote: Let's join Mrs. Jones in the delivery room as she's about to give birth.

By the time I was 10, I was submitting manuscripts to children's publishers. I always brought my manual typewriter with me on summer vacations and always had a work in progress.

By the time I was a senior in high school, I was writing for our local paper, where I stayed for 10 years, before life got in the way and I stopped writing and got a real job to make a living.

I continued freelancing sporadically but let my dream fall by the wayside. Along the way, I earned two college degrees, a checkered job resume and life experience.

Then, when job prospects dried up and I was left homeless and jobless, I returned to my first love, who welcomed me back and today make my living as a full time writer.

True, I am what I call a writer for hire and not the novelist I dreamed of being one day. After a day of writing words for others, I do not have any left for my projects. I want to change that.

Pat Wahler said...

I agree with you, Sioux. I thought Lynn's post was thought-provoking and true and it certainly made me wonder the same thing. A writer writes, but must also read and think and feel before the words can go on paper. It's wonderful, intriguing, maddening process.


Mary Horner said...

I am not certain about many things, but I'm a writer through and through. I just know. I just am! And even when I'm not writing, I'm still a writer even though it may not look like it on the outside.

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