Today is my birthday. I’m 61 years old. Too young for social security, too old to pretend I’m young. Last month I wrote about all my doctors and health issues and I bragged that I finally had all the roads (problems) identified and was on the right route to healthy. Then I promptly discovered I needed a pacemaker/defibrillator installed. So, NOW I’m battery operated and feeling better than I have in years! Again, I’m optimistic that I am on the right road to healthy! But, this blog is not about me or my health, so now – on to the good stuff! Writing.
Write is what I do. It is who I am. Or, is it?
Recently, I was critiquing pages in a public setting and was asked by several people if I was a school teacher. “No”, I answered. “My friend is an author and I’m critiquing her new story.”
While my answer was true, I was a bit puzzled by what I said. I’m a writer too, but apparently I didn’t feel comfortable identifying myself that way. WHY? I’ve been writing in some form or fashion for most of my life, but rarely identify myself as a writer.
“You enjoy reading?” someone else asked.
“Yes, I love to read.” My response was immediate and wholehearted.
“So, you enjoy doing stuff like that?” She motioned to the pages I was critiquing.
“Very much!” I nodded and silently chastised myself for hiding behind a friend’s work and not owning my own.
“What do you do?” she asked next. I assumed she was not clairvoyant or reading my thoughts, but instead wondering why some published author would ask ME to critique her words.
“I write, too, but I’m not published.”
“Ohhh,” she looked disappointed and confused. I turned my attention back to the pages, successfully closing the conversation. Unfortunately, I could not as easily turn off The Girls, chastising me as I tried to work.
Is my writing less significant because I haven’t pursued publication? Certainly, it will be consumed by fewer readers! Wait – what did I just say – I haven’t pursued publication. Well, that is a true statement, seeing as how I’ve only ever submitted one manuscript to one editor in the 20 years I’ve been writing. My actions scream that I do not want to be published.
Only – I do want to BE published. I just don’t want to work hard enough to make that a reality. And that’s a lie – I don’t mind hard work, I’m afraid of rejection! I’m afraid no one will like my stories!
For a while, I thought I would self-publish because that would be easier – NOT! I still might self-publish, but the blinders are off and I am fully aware it is not an easier path, just a different one.
Does it mean you are less of a writer if no one ever sees your words? Apparently, at my core I think the answer is yes. And yet – I know lots of damn good writers who have not yet published their work. Are they plagued by the same self-doubt? Are my words good enough? Is my story interesting and original? Is there any merit to my characters journey? Why would anyone want to read this story?
My commas may merit a C+ but my words are good! I’ve always known I’m grammar challenged, and declared myself a writer regardless — AND I have excellent critique partners and I will pay someone to line edit before I published or submitted anything anyway — so hiding behind my comma insecurities really doesn’t stand up to a challenge, does it?
My stories are about the people I meet in my head. My muse, The Girls in my basement, help me capture their words. Since it’s just me and The Girls in my head, it’s all pretty original. I write stories about women and men who have endured devastating life events, but their lives go on to include a happy ever after and in the end, love wins.
Often, the people I meet in my head are inspired by real life events. A story about a woman whose husband and three children were killed in a road rage event inspired Second Chances. A man whose wife died in childbirth, leaving him triplet daughters came to be a hero. A story on Project Runway inspired Patterns. A story of abuse in River Oaks became Street Corners. Currently, I was inspired by a commercial on HGTV about their series, Hoarders and The Hoarding Heiress was born. I tell stories that I want to tell, because I want to read them. I’m telling some good stories.
I’m a story teller, trying to be a writer. Maybe I’ll publish something. Maybe I won’t. I’m still a story teller. One who isn’t brave enough to call herself a writer or maybe even cross the finish line, but I have all the right roads (problems) identified and I’m on the right route!
Have you written today?
Terri Richison (writing as Terri Rich) lives in Clear Lake City, TX with her husband and a giant Great Dane (giant even by Great Dane standards). She is working on self-publishing women’s fiction and avoiding getting a pie in the face if she doesn’t produce pages for every critique session! PIES OR PAGES! Terri started telling stories almost as soon as she could talk – she learned everything she needed to know about storytelling at her grandmother’s knee. Craft however, is something she is still learning – those damn commas give me nightmares!