Isn’t it funny sometimes how things turn out even when we put forth the effort required to make things happen as we intended them to? January is over and I have yet to post anything on my blog this year even though I have been working on this post for weeks.
Oh come on now Joe you’re a paid writer. Do you mean to tell me that you do the research and write 600-700 word articles for your clients in a matter of hours, but a simple post for your own blog has taken almost a month to write?
Not to make excuses, but the dead of winter is an emotionally challenging time for many of us, and this winter has been especially challenging for me. The fact is I’ve been hesitant to share what’s been on my mind.
As I stood among my friends the Aspen, Cottonwood, and Spruce a couple of weeks ago on a frozen mountainside I caught site of a lone bird sitting on a bare branch. The crooning of the lonely songbird invoked a deep mourning for one that I loved and missed dearly.
You may not know it, but last January my son Dennis passed away after a long bout with the a demon I know all too well… the devil that lurks inside of the bottle.
I searched for the silver lining in the sorrow I was experiencing while a ferocious arctic wind pummeled my face with ice rain, sleet, and snow. With frostbite about to set in from the waterfall of tears cascading down my frozen cheeks it dawned on me that tragedy was the perfect segue into my upcoming series about writing.
Tragedy… After all a series of tragic events was the impetus for me to write something for the first time since I left high school.
What was so tragic that I would pick up the pen and express myself in writing? A better question might be why did I pick up the pen?
It was February of 2007 as I sat in my car during a freezing rain storm. I stared at the bottle of Wild Turkey 101 I held in my hand, and contemplated whether or not it might be better for those I loved if I stepped in front of a truck. I was about to pop the cork, when out of nowhere a poetic thought came to mind.
Fortunately I chose to set the bottle down and followed the urge I had to drag the backpack that contained my laptop out of the back seat. I snatched the laptop out of the bag, fired it up and watched the letters appear on the 15” screen as my fingers hit the keys. When I finished reading the poem that I had just written, a wave of emotion overcame me. I felt so happy to be alive, that I took a walk and let the freezing rain wash away the tears.
Several poems and a few months passed before I started my first major writing project. Even though I spent the next year writing a story that will most likely never be published, I knew as I wrote my life story that I wanted to become a paid writer.
So how does one become a paid writer? Especially when you don’t have a college degree.
First of all you have to love writing enough that you are inspired to learn how to write in a way that reaches an audience. Learning to write for the audience you want to reach doesn’t require spending thousands of dollars, and sitting in classes for years. It does require study and dedication to learning the craft of writing though. I have spent at least four hours a day over the last eight years learning the craft and if I were to guess I will spend the rest of my life studying the art of writing.
My first mentors William Strunk Jr., and E.B. White, authors of The Elements of Style opened my eyes to the simple truths of the importance of style and grammar in my writing. No I don’t personally know either of these two masters of the craft, none the less they have mentored me by sharing their wisdom and knowledge.
Over the next few months I will be sharing with the cherished readers of this blog the adventures I have enjoyed with the many mentors I have had the gift to learn from over the years. Some of them are known to many, Masters of the craft like William Shakespeare, Ernest Hemingway, Nora Roberts, and Stephen King to name a few. Then there are those that you probably never heard of like Brendan Schemrie, who taught me the importance of writing for a specific audience. Or Shauna Edson, who spent an hour every Wednesday for a year coaching me and teaching me the mechanics of writing dialogue. Then there is my friend, editor, and co-mentor of the Veterans writing group at the Salt Lake V.A. Hospital, Peter Muller who has taught and inspired me in ways that the masters would admire.
Thank you for stopping by and allowing me to share my thoughts with you. Until next time please keep being beautiful you as you are the change we need to make our world a better place for all we share it with.
Namaste with love,