Monday, May 25, 2009

Writers and Writing

I have been reading a biography of John Cheever (Cheever: A Life, by Blake Bailey, 2009) and as a writer, I find it fascinating to learn about the lives of my favorite writers. I'll be posting a few more thoughts on this book but I'd like to start with one struggle I've been having as a writer.

I have really been "down on myself" for not coming up with original material; not so much writing what others have written, but taking my own life experiences and history and using that as a foundation for a story. But in reading this book, I have found that John Cheever did the same thing. Many of the characters in his stories were based loosely on people from his own life, including himself -- his mother, father, brother, wife, and friends all appear in his works.

So that is very encouraging to me as a writer. It lets me know that not only is it okay to draw on my own experiences, but that it can lead to some really good and meaningful stories.

I'd also like to comment on the fact that he, and other writers, seem to lead troubled lives. Why is this so? Is it because we read more about their lives than other, "normal" writers (and I use that term loosely) and they just stick with us more? And it's just not writers -- it's artists (VanGogh) and composers (Tchaikovsky) as well. Maybe it's just that they have more to write about, more emotional issues to connect with, or maybe the percentage of artists with issues is the same as the general population, but they are just more open and more expressive about them.

In my own writing group, we have a good mix and bag of emotional issues and struggles and it comes through in our writing - abusive parents, struggling to find one's true identity, and disastrous relationships.

I don't know the answer to this. Do you?

Saturday, May 16, 2009


Hello, and welcome to my corner of the "bloggosphere." What I hope to do with this blog is to share with you my development as a writer.

I have been writing for quite a while now -- over 20 years, actually. But most of it has been technical in nature. You see, I've been employed as a trainer / instructional designer, so most of what I write is instructional in nature. I've written on topics from the evolution of mankind (oops, humankind), how to use a variety of computer applications, customer service (specializing in dealing with irate customers), and even how to change a meter! Yep, I've written on a variety of topics from big to small. Over the years, I've received a lot of compliments on my work, mostly telling me how I can take a complex topic and make it easy to understand. It wasn't until about 9 months ago that I decided to expand my horizons a bit and start writing creatively. I signed up for a creative writing class at the local community college and I haven't looked back since. I've written a few short stories, and handful of poems, and even a non-fiction piece. I've been featured in the local paper and am trying to break through to a national publication.

What I hope to do with this blog is to document my trials and tribulations as an aspiring writer. I'll share with you my joys and triumphs as well and my failures and defeats (or "lessons learned" as I'm going to call them). I'll share my thoughts about the writing process and writers in general. I'll gripe about some of my fellow writers as well as sing their praises (although I won't mention many names).

I am not going to worry about spell checking my blog, or editing my blog entries. I do enough of that with my own writing (probably too much!). Instead, it's just going to be a brain dump of what I'm thinking at the time. Hopefully it'll make sense. Sometimes it won't and I'll just ramble. That's okay, because in ramblings there is some truth to be found, or at least I hope so!