Recently, I’ve been busy, not really crafting but rote writing: notes to students, essay and novel critics, power point presentations, technical reports and email proposals. Thus, I’ve begun to crave the craft of writing, not other people’s stuff, but my own writing. I want to sit down and weave new stories and re-spin old ones. Yet, I seem to put other things first, staying too busy to focus on my goal longer than 15-minutes; although 15-minutes of writing is better than no writing at all. And half of that writing has fallen into my striped purse journal, which is why I have not been blogging. I shouldn’t complain, I have written more stuff in 15 minutes than two hours and according to Barbara DeMarco-Barrett, author of Pen on Fire: A Busy Woman’s Guide To Igniting The Writer Within, 15-minute spurts of writing is ideal for the active woman.
I had begun to wonder when this writing (the actual writing not the writing-in-my-head) would come to fruition or keep me inspired until completion. At first, I had planned to stop thinking about the writing projects and focus on my role as an adjunct until the semester was complete. I did the planner thing: made a list of projects and dates to be completed and found at least six contests I should enter. Then two students asked if they could meet with me to talk about creative writing: writing as a profession, sharing their stories. I couldn’t resist molding and encouraging budding scribes. However, if they asked about my own writing I would have to pause. A few days later, after Sunday school one of my church brothers approached me.
“Angela,” he said. “Are you planning to publish another newsletter? I have some article to send you, but I don’t want to send them to you in vain.”
I was startled for a moment. He and I both knew the readership was less than five percent, and after 10 years, I had grown a bit tiresome of publishing, writing and editing the newsletter, sometimes as small as four-pages and other times as voluminous as twelve.
“The newsletter is my place to vent,” he said.
Of course, since we had published one online issue and a PDF copy was always available, I had a plan. (Me and my plans.) I told my brother that I had planned to publish two print issues and bimonthly online issues in 2009. And although I had skipped the September issue, without any back lash, a December copy would surface. He was pleased and understanding. I was mortified. As a writer of more than a decade, how could I limit the voice of a writer? Publishing was hard, writing even harder and harder editing without changing the writer’s intentions. My church brother had trusted me to take him on this writer’s journey, just as the two students had.
As we parted, I realized what had happened to me, why I was only writing in my head: in the words of F. Scott Fitzgerald, “You don’t write because you want to say something, you write because you have something to say.”
I took on the mentorship because these students had something to say. I published the newsletter because my church brother and others had something to say. And finally I not only had begun to crave the craft but I also had something to say.