Last month, I got tagged by fellow blogger Jess Witkins over at The Happiness Project. It’s part of a series of posts where writers share why they write. A few weeks later, Barbara Techel at Joyful Paws tagged me, so for her readers, I’ll share what I wrote for Jess. It’s been a great exercise, because, really, how many of us stop to think about why we do the work we do? Here goes:
I’m having fun pondering this one, because I’ve never given much thought to exactly why I do what I do. You see, I’ve always just wanted to be a writer. When I was a kid, I wrote a newspaper – I sold issues to my parents for ten cents a copy and drew illustrations with my crayons. Then in fifth grade, my teacher, the lovely Mrs. Schaef, gave us a writing assignment: make an everyday item sound exciting. I took grass, spelled it backwards in the title, and made a whole mystery out of it. Mrs. Schaef told me it was some of the most delightful reading she’d come across, and that I was on track to becoming a good writer. Yeah, it was only grass, but I was hooked.
So thanks, Barbara, for getting me thinking! Here are my answers to your questions:
What am I working on? I’m working on a series of humorous essays titled The Green Hornet Suit and Other Musings. It’s not that odd things happen often, but I do tend to find a lot in life is amusing. When I’m tickled by something, I let it “stew” for a while and then turn it into an essay. I also have the distinct pleasure of being copywriter for Cassy Tully – she’s a fantastic artist, and I get to write about her paintings and her progress. I write regularly for a local newspaper and Lakeshore Living magazine, a bimonthly publication issued by Gannett Media.
How does my work differ from others of its genre? I’ll stick with my humorous essays here. My work is different because it’s me telling the stories, and finding something quirky or bizarre in the interactions I’ve had with the people in the essays. My grandpa, wearer of the infamous Green Hornet Suit (a plaid polyester number that should have been burned) wasn’t by nature a humorous person. He could be exasperating and often tested our patience, but when I stepped back and saw the humor in that, several essays were born.
Why do I write what I do? I believe that everyone has a story. Everyone. Whether I’m writing for Cassy, interviewing someone for the local newspaper, or writing an essay, it’s a story unfolding before me, and because I am a writer, I’m in the unique position of being able to find words for each person’s story.
How does my writing process work? I need to let ideas “stew” before I sit down to write, otherwise my writing feels forced. Sometimes I practice avoidance tactics before I start – clear off my desk, look out the window, crack open another Diet Pepsi – then finally glue my butt to the chair and get to work. Honestly, my humorous essays are the easiest to write – they often come tumbling out, and before I know it, I’ve got a few pages down, so it’s easy to like that work. Then I start weeding, pulling out words and phrases that don’t add to the story. More on that here…
Feedback has also been tremendously valuable. A few months ago, Jess offered to beta read for me. I sent her copies of several humorous essays, which she critiqued. It really opened my eyes and made me realize that what I viewed as a developed essay needed tweaks to depth and detail. Her supportive critique has improved my work, and I keep many of Jess’s comments and questions in my head as I write new essays.
There you have it! It’s been fun really thinking about why all this happens, so thanks for thinking of me, Barbara – see you soon!