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  • September 26th, 2011 | 10:56 PM
It was just a little thing

Really. Just a little thing to share some new words of a new project with my weekly goal's group, not my critique group of published writers, a group of readers who would just be listening for story and not thinking about construction and whether or not the book had the potential to sell.

It was just a little thing to read seven poems about one of the sisters in my novel. Really. Just a little thing. Or was it?

I've been away from writing and sharing and critiquing for a while so the thought of putting myself and my words out there made me feel all quivery in my stomach, just like a brand-new writer. But I printed out some pages and put them in the car before I could give myself a chance to change my mind. After all, I didn't have to read them if I didn't want to.

At my goal's group we go around the room and share the progress we've made in our creative life over the last week and talk about our plans for the coming week.I listened to a couple of friends, one beating herself up for not getting things done and another who regularly sets and achieves her goals. And then it was my turn.

The last few months while I've been getting physically healthy I've been doing a lot of thinking, trying to let go of excess emotional baggage (okay, all emotional baggage is excess and needs to be dumped.)  I've spent many years measuring my writing worth against too many of the wrong things --- Whether I write like someone else or as often as someone else. Whether I sell to a certain publisher or make a certain amount of money. Whether I get mentioned some place or not. Whether my reviews are good or bad or whether my books are even reviewed.

Like I said, all the wrong measurements.

Because for me, my writing worth can't be measured by what someone else does or doesn't do for me or to me.

I needed to remind myself of that. The reason I write may not be the reason anyone else writes and that's okay. I've felt a change in my writing self the last few months. Less need to compare, to feel jealously, to worry that I am somehow not doing it right.

I'm doing it the only way I know how. My way.

Writing has always been my way of making sense of the world. I write to discover who I am and why I think and feel the way I do. I write to explore the implications of choices I have made and to investigate the whys behind those choices. I write because writing defines me.

So today, when it was my turn to share about my week, I picked up a few poems and shared a bit of my WIP with readers who just wanted to hear an interesting story. They laughed at what I thought were the funny places. They gasped when I shocked them. And I could see in their eyes that question that every storyteller hopes to see in their audience, "What happens next?"

The best stories, the ones that stick in our hearts and minds, are the ones that reflect life as it is, not as we wish it were. The ones that bring us up close and personal. Sometimes the significance of a piece of work is not just in the work itself but in the memories each reader, and each writer, brings to it.

This is why I write.

I'm going to try and remember that.
There are so many stories only you can tell.Tell them, please.



Comments

( 13 comments — Leave comment )
candice_ransom
September 27th, 2011 10:16 am (UTC)
It really *is* all about the work. Publication, accolades, awards--nice, but mostly fluff.

What a great thing, to have a goals group. I could use that.
susanwrites
September 28th, 2011 05:47 am (UTC)
Candice I adore my goals group. I sometimes feel like the oddball because while a could of others in the group write, I'm the one that's been at it forever. The others are artists (they all met via an art group.) But I just love love love the support, the fact that we have all become friends, that we can share all aspects of being creatives and living creative lives and trying to succeed at our various creative businesses.
jbknowles
September 27th, 2011 11:38 am (UTC)
<3
d_michiko_f
September 27th, 2011 03:31 pm (UTC)
Welcome back to LJ! And wow, what a great and inspirational post. Thanks for sharing your thoughts - yes, we just have to write our own way, and not measure our "success" against other writers. That's the beauty of writing and art, there is no true measure, only how it makes you feel, and the fact that you HAVE to write to be whole. xoxoxo Can't wait to see you! Cheering you on!
susanwrites
September 28th, 2011 05:48 am (UTC)
Thank you! Yes, we walk our path our way and that is where we find the joy in the process. At least for me. :)
njnelson
September 27th, 2011 04:13 pm (UTC)
I've been struggling with a negative "why bother?" voice in my head about my own writing. But you reminded me why I do, and should, bother. "Writing has always been my way of making sense of the world." There's a lot I'm trying to make sense of right now. Thank you.
dorireads
September 27th, 2011 06:02 pm (UTC)
I'm very glad to see you back. Your goals group reading sounds wonderful, like they enjoyed, and you enjoyed. Finding joy in this journey is so important. It's good to see you trusting yourself to be joyful in your work. Keep on writing!
susanwrites
September 28th, 2011 05:49 am (UTC)
Thank you, Dori. It's get to be back.

I really feel like there has been a shift in my way of thinking about how and why I write and that it can only be for the good. Hope your writing is going well.
writerjenn
September 27th, 2011 11:59 pm (UTC)
*applause*
susanwrites
September 28th, 2011 05:54 am (UTC)
Thanks!
bogwitch64
September 30th, 2011 01:33 pm (UTC)
(here via writerjenn)

I always say that if there's no love in the writer, there can't be any love from the reader. A reader knows when a writer is trying too hard to win (something, anything, an award or publication or approval.)

Lovely stuff here. Good show, and happy writing.
angeladegroot
October 2nd, 2011 12:50 pm (UTC)
Nicely said. We write foremost for ourselves but get sucked into the trap of measuring ourselves against others. It's dumb, but it's hard not to do. Thanks for the reminder.
(Anonymous)
November 19th, 2011 11:17 pm (UTC)
It is ironic that I found this particular piece on your blog today. I know it was written almost two months ago. Today though I am returning to my newly found writers group.

I like you am not sure where I am headed. I don't know how I am supposed to be writing, also like you I write mostly for myself. For almost the same reason. To find myself. To find where it is I fit into the bigger picture of what is called life. I started writing in an attempt to make myself feel better. Get out of he deep depression I had fallen into.

Today I think , no I know I can finally say it through my series of letters that have woven themselves into I book I have written and survived a completed Chapter of my life.

- Anne McKenna
( 13 comments — Leave comment )
WHO AM I?



Who am I?I was born on the Cancer/Leo cusp and share a birthday with Ernest Hemingway and Robin Williams. The similarities don't stop there as I can go from depressed to ecstatic without ever passing go. I feel scared most of the time though my friends call me brave and I find it easier to believe in my friends than to believe in my own abilities to make what I want out of my life.

Who am I? A wife, a mother, a daughter, and even, gulp, a grandmother.

Who am I? A writer who never gets tired of playing with words, even when the words are hard to find. A writer of books for children and articles for grown-ups and many things in-between.

Who am I? A motivational speaker, writing instructor, workshop leader and full-time follower of dreams.

Who am I? Read and find out.






Susan Taylor Brown

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"Successful writers are not the ones who write the best sentences. They are the ones who keep writing. They are the ones who discover what is most important and strangest and most pleasurable in themselves, and keep believing in the value of their work, despite the difficulties."
--Bonnie Friedman

"As writers, we must be willing to feel our sadness, our anger, our terror, so we can reach in and find our sweet vulnerability that is just sitting there waiting for us to come back home."
--Nancy Slonim Aronie

"Writers write about what obsesses them. You draw those cards. I lost my mother when I was 14. My daughter died at the age of 6. I lost my faith as a Catholic. When I'm writing, the darkness is always there. I go where the pain is."
--Anne Rice

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