This month's optional question: Of all the genres you read and write, which is your favorite
to write in and why?
I write women’s fiction, personal essays and poetry but could
I say I have a favorite? I’m not sure. All I know is that whatever I am immersed
in at the time is my favorite. So, if I’m writing stories about women who overcome
life-altering obstacles, they rope me in, take me on trips to other places, plunge
me into other lives. Once I’ve completed a draft, the editing drives me to
contemplate every word, sentence, paragraph, scene, and arc. While I’m in the
midst of it, it feels like my best and most passionate work.
Then there are the essays. Most often lately, they
appear here in Middle Passages. Each month, when it’s time to produce another
post I dive in, focusing on nuance, the style, my voice. Once I’ve completed a first
draft, I walk away. On return, I see where the essay needs to go and tweak and massage,
making it the best writing I can achieve at the time. I think about the
bloggers who will see the piece, wondering what their impressions will be on reading it. Is it good enough? Is
it clear? Is my point worth making?
Lastly, there’s the emotional writing—poems that come to me
during times of deep and raw feeling. Poetry, where every single word must have
pure meaning, saves me when grief, or fear or sometimes even joy, overwhelm me. I'm not sure sure I write poems as much as they find me and take me captive. Once one does, it's impossible for me to be free of it. I spend hours switching up words,
moving lines, feeling rhythm, counting meter. It’s a good
thing I don’t write too many poems, because when I do, I can’t stop. I sneak
copies of the poem-in-progress where ever I go. Pencil in changes. Replace words in my head while trying to sleep.
So, you ask, which is my favorite? All writing from which I
return blinking, oblivious to what is happening in the real world, is my favorite.
Funny story. At work, I am the editor of a monthly
newsletter and often have to write short snippets for filler. My office door is
always open, my back to the door. At least once a month, someone will pop in on me while
I’m writing one of these things and I jump sky high. I admit that sometimes an expletive
must be deleted. You see, even this kind of writing transports me to the point
I don't hear what’s happening around me. I’m not sure who is more startled by my reaction, me or the folks I work with, but lately
my office peers have begun to knock.
What's your favorite type of writing and how do you react when you are interrupted from your work?
Okay, my friends, here’s the deal. In a past life I
ran training seminars, interviewed candidates, negotiated job offers and represented
my former company at job fairs. In my current role, I write and deliver annual speeches. I can and do deal with the public all the time. Yet,
for years, folks have encouraged me to attend Grub Street’s Muse in the Marketplace,
the writer’s conference held, more-or-less in my backyard. My answer was always, “I know
I should, but…”
Such a nasty word.
Gosh, it’s easy to make
excuses when we're scared, right? My bottom-line? I was afraid to go because
it mattered too much. All that stuff I did before I called myself a writer? Not
one bit of it meant a pinch of salt compared to sitting in front of my computer,
sculpting a story, an essay, or a poem. But I believed I had yet to achieve my
best writing and until I did, well, I figured at The Muse, I’d be exposed as a
Then, this year I hit a hard writing
wall and I had to move forward or risk stagnation. So, with a not-so-gentle
nudge from a talented member of my writing group, I signed up for one day at The
Muse. Daring myself further, I paid extra for a one-on-one with an agent, too.
If you read my last post, you know I
experienced a wee bit of anxiety leading up to this event. But in the end, I
arrived to find a ballroom packed with agents, authors, editors and writers
all there to network, to present or to learn and grow. Ahem. Not one of them was there to mock me. It can be said that I am
often slow to the party and now, finally, I get it. What could be better than a day spent learning among like-minded people? Only one thing. Spending the day
with like-minded people during which the Great-Liza-is-a-Fake boogeyman does
not make an appearance. Apparently, he had something better to do.
So then, big gulp, it was time for
me to meet with the agent to whom I’d sent my writing sample. In spite of the nail-biting
lead up, would you believe that meeting was fun? She suggested a tweak to my
query and asked some questions about my first twenty pages but the gist of it
was, she called it a good story with authentic details. Twenty minutes were
over in a snap and when the bell rang, she handed me her card and said, “Good
job. Send me fifty pages, please.”
And folks, that little victory wouldn’t have happened if I hadn't taken the risk.
Thus, my message for IWSG this month. We can’t move
forward unless we take the necessary steps. Push through your fear. It will be worth it. For me? Attending the
conference gave me confidence in my writing again.
What are your writing fears? What has been the best thing about the conferences you've attended?