I am very happy to be back in the word game. Though I have seen my name and words in print many times before, I am still thrilled when I get the letter (or more often these days, email) telling me that someone else likes what I have written enough that they want to share it with their readers.
Just three months ago, I started down a new path and right now I am feeling very good about it. I feel that I am able to once again call myself a writer. I have always been amused at the reaction I get when asked what I “do” and give this answer. Many people are awed and most will ask what I write. Since I really don’t like talking about myself, these conversations sometimes get uncomfortable for me. I don’t think writing is all that special, after all, many people write something every day. Having said that, I will admit that being a writer is hard, but not for the reasons most may think. The writing itself I find easy, it’s the process of getting published that is difficult.
I attribute my ability to string words together in a way that makes sense to the fact that I was blessed with a family that put value on education. From a young age I was surrounded with quality reading material. I spent allowances at the bookstore and hours at the library. Writing was a natural extension of that. Organizing my “word vomit” (as I referred to it when I worked with high school students on their writing) to me is like a puzzle, fitting the pieces together where they belong. (In the old days, I actually did much cutting and pasting, with scissors and glue.)
Deciding when a piece is ready to submit is the real challenge. Over time, I have learned that nothing is truly “done.” It may reach a point where it is good, but it is always possible to make improvements. As a writer, resisting the temptation to keep making changes is tough. Hitting “send” on a submission is something I usually do quickly, before I chicken out and change my mind. And then there is the waiting.
Waiting to hear back from an editor can be stressful. I try to send and then forget, resisting the urge to compulsively check my email several times a day (yeah, I sometimes do this). Getting a rejection sometimes stings, a lot. Weeks with only rejections are especially difficult. This is where readers come in. Like any other field, praise is music to the ears. Hearing that I have touched a reader, getting that “Me, too!” message touches me. I write because I need to, for me. I share it so that others can read and hopefully discover something. Maybe I can share information I have discovered myself, maybe I can make someone feel less alone, maybe I can simply brighten someone’s day.
Much has changed in my life over the past three months. For the first time in a long time, I feel like I have an identity all my own (not simply someone’s mom or wife). I have made new friends and, based on the comments I have gotten, have touched a few lives. I don’t think it is possible to adequately show my appreciation for each of you who is taking the time to read this, and anything else I have written. Each time I see that someone has shared my work, I am, quite honestly, awed. The fact that someone likes what I say enough to share it with others means very much to me. I have wondered if I will ever get used to that feeling. Truthfully, I hope I don’t. I think that “Wow, they really like me,” (with Sally Field’s voice in my head) is a good thing. Without readers, there would be no reason to publish. It is my readers that keep me submitting and inspire me to write more. So, THANK YOU READERS! You get me through the dark spots and make me want to give more.