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  • Dianne McCartney

The Writer's Wishing Well


The difference between wanting to write and wanting to be a writer.


Everyone thinks they can write. After all, we all went to school and learned those painful rules about grammar and punctuation. We wrote thirty-seven versions of See Jane Run before we reached our teens. That should be enough preparation, shouldn’t it?


But, it’s not. Writing isn’t about national acclaim and hordes of adoring fans for most of us. It’s about self-expression and not knowing anything else that provides that kind of pleasure.


One of my beloved family members makes a delightful example of how people misunderstand the process. If she reads this, I hope she forgives me. She contacted me one day some years ago about wanting to write. I had just received a handful of awards and that prompted her to think writing might be fun. I was excited and suggested that she join a critique group, read a few craft books and ask me any questions she liked. Her response was that she didn’t want to do any of that, she just wanted to write.


Surprised, I replied that she should let me know how it went and I wished her well. A week later, she called back. “This is hard,” she wailed. “I just did one page and then I didn’t know what else to do.”


And there’s the rub. It is hard. She liked the idea of awards, but failed to recognize that I had written for years, learning how to earn them. And, after writing for fifteen years, I still take classes and read books on craft. Why? To improve. Because you should always want that. In fact, learning something new every day is the best part of writing as far as I’m concerned.


Every year, especially at conferences, I hear people listing reasons they aren’t successful. Most of them are horse pucky as my grandma used to say. Believe in yourself but, most importantly, keep writing. Writers who produce a constant stream of work will always find success, although not always in the form you expect. And that’s okay.


Because you can always write more tomorrow.

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