Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Valuable Lessons Learned from Writing #IWSG

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and
concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who
 have been through the fire can offer assistance
and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!
This is my first month participating in The Insecure Writer's Support Group.

This month's question: What is one valuable lesson you've learned since you started writing?

I started writing when I was five. My mom (or maybe Santa Claus) gave me a diary for Christmas. It's blue with pink bunnies. I still have it as I think I've yet to throw away anything I've ever written.

By fifth grade, I'd won a poetry contest. My teacher, much maligned as the old battle ax that no one really wanted, encouraged creative writing. She was a great teacher for me, proving my mom's decision not to request the nicer teacher was the right call. I participated in Ms. Guzowski's writer's workshop with an ongoing saga about a group of girls at a slumber party that were being attacked by some unknown intruder. Eventually the girls were forced onto the porch roof in the rain. I still don't know what happened to them or why my first real fiction story was quasi-horror. I have an intense dislike for suspense and horror stories. Maybe I was playing to my audience of fifth grade boys.

By my late teens, I'd decided to write the great American novel. My attempts were stymied by a lack of original thought. I wrote a handful of magazine articles, briefly held a job at a PR firm, and kept filling those diaries. Eventually, I had a life experience and wrote my book.

All told, I've been writing creatively for 32 years. I've learned lots of valuable rules, most of which have been broken by the Internet. It was only recently I learned what I've come to appreciate as the most valuable lesson about writing:

There doesn't need to be a reason for it.

Now Ms. Guzowski would surely disagree (if she's still alive) and many of my readers will argue that there's always an objective when communicating via the written word. I spent many years with my book on a shelf as I tried to figure out why I should publish it. Would it make the world a better place? Did it have a message that would help someone? Was it at least entertaining?

In the midst of my decision to go through with a final edit and publishing, I came upon a devotional in my Bible app, C.S. Lewis and the Call to Create. I adore C.S. Lewis, so the brevity of the reading (only four days) was disappointing. On day two, I found a bit of inspiration that gave me the momentary confidence needed to publish my book.

"[T]he gospel frees us to create for the pure joy of creating, not seeking fortune or fame, but the fame of the One who has called us to create."

To simplify: why write a book? Because we can!

The pressure to succeed in some worldly way is removed. I have an answer now for all those questions I could never really articulate a response to. Why do I write? Why do I keep my house clean and plant flowers and wash my car? Why do I teach Sunday School and lead Girl Scouts? Why do I do my best? Because it brings me joy and honors God.


It's a valuable life/writing lesson that will surely need to be re-learned each time I check the sales stats on my book. We're lured by fortune and fame as surely as we are called to create, but the creativity is the gift, commercially unsuccessful though it may be.

"So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." 1 Corinthians 10