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Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Is it Working? IWSG October, 2020

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. IWSG is the brainchild of Alex Cavanaugh. To find links to other IWSG contributors, click here. A big thank you to co-hosts for October: Jemima Pett, Beth Camp, Beverly Stowe McClure, and Gwen Gardner!

October optional question: When you think of the term working writer, what does that look like to you? What do you think it is supposed to look like? Do you see yourself as a working writer or aspiring or hobbyist, and if the latter two, what does that look like?


For purposes of this question, I suppose the term working writer means writing for pay. But even though in my past life as a freelancer I earned money writing, I’d never consider the term “working writer” in that context, only.

Whether you’re paid or not, aspiring or a hobbyist, any good writing takes butt-in-chair dedication, which means hard, diligent work. Too many times, people who call themselves writers say, “but I haven’t been writing lately.” In that regard, a “working” writer could be someone employing the dedication to practice their craft regularly.

Truth be told, I’ve never cared about making money through writing. Simply put, more than anything else I do, the “work” of writing gives me life. And, as I have so profoundly rediscovered over the past five months, for me writing also means healing.

Regular readers know I lost my husband in April. He passed on a Thursday and by Friday, I was driven to sit down to write about him, a piece that turned into my May IWSG post. Even though I was a wreck (or maybe because I was), those words poured from me. Looking back on it, I can only think the goal to capture the essence of my Tim on a page kept me moving forward during that first, excruciating day without him.

After that, I struggled to accomplish any writing while navigating the crater that had formed in my life. I wandered the house, sometimes forcing myself to sit at the computer to get a couple of sentences out before drifting away. But those few sentences I managed told me something. During the brief spells in which I could focus, writing delivered me from my drowning self. Somehow, I came to know the work of writing, was—and is, going to save me.

Five months later, I’ve finished what I call “First Draft B,” of the very first novel I tried to write. Eight years ago, the original first draft was a disaster I didn't have the skills to fix. For lack of a better project, I’d resurrected it before things took a downward turn with Tim, early this year. 

To distract myself from missing him, this summer I picked it up again. At first, I could only concentrate for a few minutes at a time. But after a while, the story captured me and I was not only able to fix issues with my newbie writing, I was also able to lose myself in the process.

May I state for the record that right now, losing myself in anything is a huge victory? 

So, working writer. What does that mean? To me, it means getting up in the morning knowing there’s writing work to be done—each idea a reward, every sentence a blessing, all of it salvation, a means by which I attend to something other than grief. I may never be paid another penny for anything I write, but hell, yes, I’m a working writer. And grateful that, for the time being anyway, my writing appears to be working.

What does being a working writer mean to you?