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Wednesday, August 3, 2016

IWSG August 2016--First Writing



It's IWSG Day.  The goal of this blog hop is to share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds. The brainchild of Alex Cavanaugh, our brilliant ninja leader.  To read more posts, click here.

Today’s question: What was your very first piece of writing as an aspiring writer? Where is it now, collecting dust or has it been published.

As a fourteen-year-old, I visited Cape Cod on a May weekend with two of my best friends, twin sisters whose family had a summer house near the water. Back then, I lived in a landlocked town, and being near the coast was a novelty for me.  One evening, we took a walk down to the beach to watch as the flaming sun dropped into the sea.  Low tide had rolled the water back, ginger mud flats wore dollops of seaweed, and barefoot, we crossed washboard sand festooned with broken-shell jewelry.  Awed by the beauty amid all that orange reflection, the need to record the experience swelled inside me.  As soon as we returned to the house, I grabbed a piece of paper and wrote a descriptive paragraph, desperate to portray the scene--the seagulls calling overhead, the damp hot air, the nose-wrinkling smell of low tide.

The next week, puffed up and filled with expectation, I gave the piece to a friend, one of the editors of our junior high school  magazine, thinking it was good enough to be published in the year-end issue.  She returned it to me a few weeks later speckled with comments from her peer reviewers. The first remark went something like, “You know I hate this kind of stuff. I don’t know why I'm even reading it.”  Someone else said, “Nice sentiment, but awkward phrasing. Pass.”  The third reviewer didn't bother to comment, but penciled in a numerical score--I believe it was two point five out of five.  Needless to say, that little bit of descriptive brilliance never made it to print. I packed away the disappointment and the piece, but never the swelling in my heart that drove me to pick up the pen.

A few weeks ago, I had an email exchange with one of those twin sisters, a friend I’ve known longer than anyone other than family.  She asked how my writing was going, and then reminded me of that weekend so long ago on the Cape.  “I was so jealous of you, how you could just sit down and write.”  I didn’t know, back then, that other people can't or don't care to perhaps, act on their feelings in the same manner that drives me.  I just knew that day on the beach, I'd witnessed true beauty and it called on me capture its essence.  Or, attempt to, anyway.

I've had lots of pieces published since then, but it took me a long time to get there, years in which I yearned to "become" a writer but afraid to label myself as one, and this IWSG question has led me to understand something.  It's likely this compelling need to chronicle what touches me defines many writers. Who knew?  It was never necessary for me to "become" a writer.  Since that dark-ages day on Cape Cod when I was a teen, I’ve been one.

21 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

If you didn't give up after those mean comments, then you were destined to keep writing.
Ever thought about sending that editor friend from junior high one of your published pieces?

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Liza - oh gosh .. and I bet it's a great descriptive read even now - not to their eyes obviously ... but others of us would be interested. It's just something we do ... and I only started a few years ago when blogging came up - yes I'd been writing letters before ... but nothing else. Cheers Hilary

Tamara Narayan said...

It's good that you didn't let those comments ruin your love of writing. That's a hard skill for anyone to learn, regardless of their age.

cleemckenzie said...

That was cruel. Just have to chalk those kinds of comments up to youth. I guess you did and you went on to write. Great to stop in during the #IWSG this August.

Nissa Annakindt said...

I remember in college I submitted a few poems to our college newsletter and told one of the girls that worked at the newsletter later. She told me I was silly to submit because I wasn't an English major and I didn't work on the newsletter. It was years before I wrote a poem again. Too easily discouraged.

But now my poems have been published in some literary magazines and if someone thinks my poetry is no good I know there are editors who think otherwise.

Nissa Annakindt
http://myantimatterlife.wordpress.com

Joanne said...

the perspective of years. And it's funny how we remember the harsh words and not subsequent praise later on. I've been there with you, that's for sure. Now you ARE a writer...and photographer...and very artistic.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Looks like you grew that tough skin early. Good for you for not giving up! :)

Sarah Foster said...

That's great that you didn't let those comments keep you from being so passionate about writing!

Pixel Peeper said...

So glad you kept writing!

Jenni Enzor said...

What a beautiful post. I can relate to what you said. I've been writing since I was a kid too. I always look back on my writing in my teens and even my early 20s as not being really writing--because I wasn't "serious" about getting published yet, but you're right. That writing counts too.

Elizabeth Alsobrooks said...

Write on! Great observation!

Bish Denham said...

Indeed you have, Liza. Your writing is always so beautiful. It amazes me, though we use the same words, how we can arranged so differently that a writer's style becomes evident.

It's nice that you're still friends with the twin, a person who unknowingly set you on the path.

Diane Burton said...

How crushing those words on your manuscript must have been. How cruel, too. But that's teens for you. No consideration of another's feelings. I'm glad that didn't totally deter you.

Lynda R Young said...

I'm so glad you didn't let the rejection comments stop you from continuing to write.

Diane Weidenbenner said...

So good that you didn't let discouraging words dissuade you! The written word can be so subjective - kind of like spinach. It's not for everyone ;-) I just joined the IWSG, #256, In my own words. Have a great weekend!

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

If the words you used to describe the beach scene back then were even a tenth as good as the description you used in this post, it was well worth publishing. Those girls were acting petty, and were probably jealous of your talent. I'm glad you didn't let them keep you from writing. Wait, no. Giving up writing was probably as unlikely for you to do as taking a break from breathing. Some things... we just have to do.

Connie said...

I think some are born to be writers while others just do it as part of a job. The ones who are born writers feel compelled to capture something they have seen or experienced. I'm glad you didn't give up because of that early criticism. I enjoy what you write here in your blog and especially enjoyed this piece. I also get those feelings that I need to get it down in words when I have experienced something memorable.

Empty Nest Insider said...

I'm also glad you didn't let those bratty girls deter you from writing. They obviously couldn't deal with your level of insight and maturity at 14. Since you've kept your maiden name, I'm sure they've come across your stories, poems and photos, and realize how much they missed out.

Julie

Bronwyn Marcus said...

I was lucky to have such an inspiring english teacher who encouarged me, I dont know how i would react to such negativity. well done for rising above it. #IWSG

Nick Wilford said...

Glad you didn't give up. I suppose it was good experience to get that early rejection! Keeping going definitely shows you've always been a true writer.

glnroz said...

Never read anything but a 10 in your writing... Is it cooling off up there yet?