Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Why a Writer Writes

     When I was at a picture book "boot camp" last summer, my mentor Pat Cummings challenged me to share more of myself on my blog. Not just industry updates and book reviews, but personal stuff that gave readers more insight into my personality.
     Be careful what you ask for.
     Here goes.
     A friend of mine who also writes gave me a compliment recently. She told me that I was one of her favorite critiquers. She said that I was smart, and I didn't focus on minutiae when there were big picture issues involved. I thanked her with a smile. It's good to feel that I'm helping fellow writers.
     She knows that I've been writing for children but haven't received that elusive first picture book contract yet. Then she asked me if I had considered becoming an agent instead.
     Instead of writing for children.

     I think I smiled again politely and acknowledged the question, shaking my head, no. I'm not sure, exactly, because I was already having another conversation in my head as I backed away.
     For a moment, I was aware of the effort to breathe and move in an intelligent manner.
     There might have been foul language involved in the silent talk..
     Don't get me wrong. I think agents are great! I'm in the process of looking for one. And I know that some agents are also writers. Win-win.
     It was the word "instead."

     This post isn't "calling out" anybody. The friend involved isn't part of my online 12X12 writing community and to the best of my knowledge doesn't read my blog. In truth, the words were well-meaning. It's my reaction that may have been "off" but then that's me.
     I think I reacted as strongly as I did because the word "instead" marginalized my passion. I'm not dabbling, I'm pursuing a dream. A career. It felt like asking me if I wanted to eat "instead" of breathing. Eating is good, but I've gotta breathe. And I am writing because at some level I have to. There isn't an off button that I''m aware of.
     So there, Pat, this one was for you.


  1. I have this taped to my computer monitor: "Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great." ~ Mark Twain. It helps take the sting out of well-meaning--and not so well-meaning remarks. Keep following your dream, Wendy!

    1. Thanks, Jane. Thickening my rhinoceros writer's skin.

  2. Keep at it, Wendy. It will happen. Agents/editors just haven't discovered yet how good you are! But, if you decide to become an agent as well as write, let me know. :-)

    1. Back at you. Maybe one of those agents who write too!

  3. I completely understand your reaction and I would have had the same too. It might as well be asking me if I'd consider becoming a librarian instead...still dealing with books, also a lovely career, but *not* writing. As the others said, keep on keeping on! It's not an easy path, but you know in your heart it's the right path for you.

    1. Keeping on is what I do best. :) And nice to have such good company on the trip.