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Saturday, November 17, 2012

To Be or Not to Be

The other day I was asked to present a talk on writing. My instinct was to decline based on the fact that I have no National Book Award or Pulitzer in my possession. But then I reconsidered. Why not share my approach to scribbling a story, with all the writing lessons devouring my brain? Maybe I'll stir up a few potential authors in the audience. So with no real teaching credentials and one measly honorable mention from a short story contest, I presented. And it was quite fun. 

I regurgitated all of those appropriate writing maxims…"raise the stakes" to keep an audience enthralled...“kill your darlings” so as not to lose sight of a theme..."show–don't tell" to create memorable prose..."write, and rewrite"...and so on. As I hopped from topic to topic, I felt that certain giddiness–like the happiness a child feels on Christmas morning. I could’ve held the audience hostage all night. It was awfully dangerous for anyone to toss out a question or opinion, because I would've been glad to engage in dialogue (over dialogue!) all night. But I sensed a few were suppressing yawns. So I wrapped it up.

As I drove home, I began to wonder why I never considered a career in writing at a younger age. I love writing. And I love the art of writing, which is also referred by many as "reading." When I was young, I would read and then I would write all sorts of stories. Often I'd piece together a screenplay for the town kids to perform. (My plays would have plots eerily similar to Grease, and were never actually performed. It seemed football games took precedence...much to my overlooked dismay.) But I know my penchant for writing and literature led me to an English major, so wouldn't it seem likely for my career to follow that of a writer as opposed to a banker? The only assumption I could make was that my mother didn’t recommend the idea. So I asked my mom why she supposed I hadn’t followed that particular path. Her response?

“You were pretty obsessed with camping as a child as well. Until, of course, you went on a camping trip.”

I think there were some financial/metaphorical implications in her statement. Hmmm. I do like the paycheck my current career provides. But I'm not quite ready to pack up the tent on my writing endeavors just yet. I've got some campfire songs to sing. 

My First Writing Award
Bonus:  Here's a book review for Lean on Pete by Willie Vlautlin if you're looking for a good read.

1 comment:

farragio said...

Good on you for going ahead and giving a talk. It can be so rewarding stepping outside our comfort zone.

P.S. Your mom's quote is priceless!