Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Just another writer

Last night I ventured to Roanoke for a seminar on magazine writing. The event, sponsored by the Arts Council, was free to the public.

Cara Ellen Modisett, editor of Blue Ridge Country magazine, was the speaker.

She spoke about queries, content, where to find ideas, what type of magazine to write for (BRC is a travel magazine), voice, and lead paragraphs, among other things.

Approximately 20-25 people turned out to hear her talk, including Becky at Peevish Pen, who is a member of the Roanoke Valley Branch of the National League of American Pen Women, as am I.

The event energized me and reminded me why I wanted to be a writer, lo those many years ago, in the first place. It is not to make money (thank goodness) but to tell a story in the way that only I can tell it. My voice is my own and my perceptions belong to me, and no one can tell me that they are right or wrong, though Lord knows they will try.

Being a writer has been a goal ever since I knew the word. Teachers pointed me in that direction. “You can write,” they said, one after the other. Some pointed me in wrong directions but still down that general avenue.

"Be a writer,” voices whispered to me.

Over the years I trained myself to write first on a typewriter and then on computer, not an easy task. Today I can scarcely read my own hand writing, so writing at the computer has become a near necessity.

Writing is more than fingers to keyboard. It is thinking, dreaming, spending time walking the fields to gather thoughts that otherwise stray. It is listening, listening and listening again to the heart of the voice of the speaker, hearing emotions in voice, seeing desire and passion in body stance. It is asking questions and not thinking the answer in your head is the correct one. It is knowing that minds are not stagnant but changeable and malleable and that what a person thinks one day may be completely different from the next.

Writing is a kind of madness, an adventure of the psyche that stimulates, fascinates, depresses and confounds. It amuses, confuses, bemuses and makes obtuse the things you thought you knew but really did not. It is blue sky, fast cars, wicked women, evil men, blessed priests, laughing children, dancing dames, Christian zealots and atheists who make love in the park. Writing zips around like a firefly on a hot summer night and it lies smoldering on the sidewalk like the flame beneath winter’s fireplaces.

The dance of the keys beneath my fingers sometimes is a slow waltz that makes the box step look like a quick locomotive. It’s a hip hop that boogies, a jazz band that be-bops and a disco that moves quickly from one end of the floor to the next. It is static, erratic, jagged and smooth, and it changes from one moment to the next.

How could I even think of not writing, of not giving life to the words of my brain, the thoughts whizzing breezily between my ears and beneath my graying hairs? What made me contemplate tossing this desire into the trees, to leave it hanging there unnoticed and unwanted like a deflated balloon?

I am just a writer. But a writer is just what I am.

7 comments:

  1. Congratulations for winning the Blue Ridge Country subscription for having the best lead. (See, some good came out of your recent computer problems)

    I can't read my handwriting either. I love my (relatively) new iMac with the flat keyboard that only requires a caress to get the words out. I can't believe I pounded a Remington Quietwriter through high school and college--and the darn thing was anything but quiet.

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  2. Yep, you're a writer, all right! What a wonderful post! "Writing zips around like a firefly on a hot summer night ... it is blue sky, fast cars, evil men ...." Wow! What a tumbling series of images you've given life to. Get busy!!

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  3. Great post!!! Nothing like a little swig of inspiration. Glad you were inspired.

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  4. I was stuck in class last night - we watched Dr. Jekel and Mr. Hyde. Sounds like a great turn out. Sorry I missed it!

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  5. You are my favorite writer. I read you more than anyone else. ... even though you bought that ASUS.

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  6. Keep on writing! Sounds like a good workshop......I could use a few of those!

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  7. You know you're a writer when you can't not write. So much of it is thinking on paper. I also think of myself as a construction worker, putting it together like a house.

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