Sunday, September 15, 2019

If you write, you are a writer


Telephone Conversation (Telefonisch Es Gespr├Ąch), 1907, Moriz Jung Austrian

We each feel imposter syndrome from time to time. Don't let it stop you from embracing the fact that if you write, you are a writer.

When my students in writing classes introduce themselves, they often say something like, "I'm not good at this. I write in my journal, but I'm terrible" or "I want to write stories one day, but what I'm doing now isn't writing."

If you are writing and communicating something, you are a writer. Own the term and believe in yourself. Give yourself permission to draft something, edit and revise it. Give yourself permission to believe in yourself. 

Believe in yourself even if other people don't understand. At a kid's party once, I asked a father what he did. He answered with a vague, Washingtonian answer that included the words "policy" and "consultant." He didn't ask me what I did, but I offered anyway. "I'm a poet." He looked down at me (he was very tall) and said something like, "You're right! I am a poet at work! I never thought of it like that."

Hell, if he can embrace calling himself a writer, you who are writing certainly can. (We'll discuss the patriarchy another day, wink.)

Happy writing!







Monday, September 9, 2019

Writing = Communication

Shadows of Leaves on Rock

Writing is a form of communication. Sure, I teach for-credit, undergraduate writing courses and grade students on their use of punctuation and molding of crisp thesis statements. But in the end, what is most important about a piece of writing is that it communicates something to the intended audience.

Our first grader is intrigued by reading and writing. He wrote a birthday card to a bilingual friend half in Italian and half in English. He sometimes sends text messages that include both emojis and words. He mixes languages, images and words - spelled 'correctly' and phonetically. Sometimes he shows us words he's learned in American or Australian sign language and sometimes he acts out his own "picture language." Based on his friends' responses, all of these marks, images and gestures are effusive forms of communication.

Sometimes we adults need to be reminded that we don't have to spend all of our time flipping and flopping a comma around in a sentence; we should instead focus on communicating. Sure, we need to be understood. Sometimes that means following the rules, but sometimes that means creating new rules or catching rules as they morph into new ones.

Give yourself a pass today to write freely. Let the words flow. Focus on grammar and punctuation later when you edit and revise your work. Maybe you'll learn something new and maybe you'll communicate that thought well, too.

For more, link through to some of my writing prompts. You might also watch these Ted Talks on how language changes over time.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

There Are Things We Can't Say published by Jellyfish Review



Thank you to Jellyfish Review for publishing my piece, There Are Things We Can't Say. This short piece of prose considers what is said and what is unsaid, as well as who has permission to tell what story. While you're on their site, I hope you'll stick around to read more!