And other topics – Writing

ImageChef.comWhen I started this blog I called it Unsigned Masterpiece – A blog about adoption and other topics because it was my intention to write about other things too. As I am sure many other adoption bloggers will testify, adoption has this tendency to take over, to scream for attention. That is probably as it should be because the voices of adoptees and first mothers were not heard for a long time. However, so far my Oprah’s Favourite Things (Sorry spellcheck I just have to put that “u” in there. Canadian, you know.) is really my only non-adoption piece.

One of the other topics I wanted to write about was writing itself. I am a lawyer and have written, written, written, letters, reports, pleadings and affidavits, for many years. About 5 years ago I decided to try my hand at creative writing. It hasn’t gone too badly. I’ve won a couple of prizes and been short-listed for some others. I’ve had a play produced. I can truly say taking my first “Introduction to Creative Writing” class changed my life. I’ve met many wonderful, talented people and made many new friends. The published and, as a mystery writer I know says, the pre-published.

People say to me sometimes “Why are there so many lawyers who want to be writers?” I always reply that although people might not realize it, law is a very creative profession. Lawyers are story tellers.

We will pause here for the old joke – Only the innocent need lawyers, the guilty can lie for themselves.

The things that I like about law are the same things I like about creative writing. Putting the puzzle together as you craft the story, creating a cast of characters. I was somewhat daunted at first by the idea that “the facts” had to come out of your own head.

I will go to my grave still learning how to be a better writer. To my mind, that is something in writing’s favour.

I was always tempted to set up a sub site on this blog for writing topics and call it “Unpublished Manuscript” because I’ve never been published.

I would write about writing and …

How frustrating it can be. Sometimes so easy, sometimes soooo hard.

How sometimes I want to cry out, “Stop me before I revise again!”

How fleeting an idea can be if you don’t write it down.

How things appear in your writing that tell you something about yourself that you didn’t know.

One example of that for me is the small town where I spent three years of my misspent youth. I couldn’t get out of that place fast enough back then. But what do I write about a lot of the time? Whose voices appear in my work? The people and the places from that small town even though I have lived most of my life in a very large city. Clearly, that town had a big impact on me.

Interestingly, adoption has not appeared in my fiction until just recently. I’m not sure why that is. Too close to the bone perhaps. Maybe blogging has helped to free me up. But I notice that when I write about adoption I still keep my distance a bit. I’m trying to get over that.

Last week, in the middle of all the pain and tears of my friend’s death, came a letter from a literary magazine, saying they want to accept a story of mine for publication. My husband turned his eyes skyward and said thank you to my friend. I was thinking the same thing.

Maybe now I have friends in high places.

How ironic that something I didn’t want so much and something I did want so much happened in the same week.

I sent a email out to my writing group to tell them the news. I’d already emailed to beg off reading because of my friend’s death. One of them wrote back and said “Laughter and tears together, that is life.”

And I think he is right. That is life and recording all that is writing.

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3 Responses to And other topics – Writing

  1. Strange, the commonalities in our lives sometimes – seeing a writing-related piece on an adoption-related blog. I wear several hats – adoption activist, computer consultant – but of late have added writer to that mix. My goal last year was to get one piece published, which I did. This year is to get one piece published that I get paid for!

    I found it interesting that you mentioned not much of your creative writing is about adoption. I find that nearly all of my creative writing ends up being about adoption, sometimes quite obviously and sometimes in more subtle ways. Writing about adoption has helped me, but writing creatively about it has helped more.

    In fact, it was adoption that kickstarted my writing. It’s been a year and a half since my birth mother cut off contact. A few days after it happened, I learned one of my favorite series was having a short story contest. The story I wrote was AWFUL, due to my state of mind at the time – but I got it done and sent it in, the first time I’d ever submitted a story anywhere. The contest due date was my birthday, so I decided it was kismet. Didn’t win, but I think the experience of my birth mother’s denial reminded me I would always regret it if I didn’t try to pursue my dream of being a published fiction writer. Since then I have submitted several stories to various venues.

    Frustrating… yes!! And as for revising, I finally got off my butt and finished the draft of this young adult fantasy story that’s been kicking around my head for years. I plan to self-publish it soon (and will post details on my blog). This one’s definitely adoption related – it’s my way of speaking to those teenage adoptees out there who are like I used to be, confused and not sure how to feel about it. I think there are far too few stories out there talking about adoption from an adoptee or birth relative perspective.

    Eve, I found a writing group local to me via SCBWI – Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. You may also want to check into groups specific to your genre, like Mystery Writers of America or SFWA.

  2. suz says:

    Do you read susan or dawn? good bloggers/writers. check out thiswomanswork.com or http://readingwritingliving.wordpress.com/

    like you i enjoy writing and often think about another blog dedicated to it. in fact, i have one but it is not currently promoted or posted to. feel free to save it.

    it can be found here.

    http://takethered.wordpress.com/

  3. Eve says:

    I think we do well whenever we add, “…and other topics” to our blogs or businesses. It leaves our options open and the door ajar for the Muse.

    Congratulations on the acceptance of your story! This is wonderful. How bittersweet the timing, though.

    How did you find a writing group? I’ve considered finding one but writers creep me out sometimes. The last writing group I went to wasn’t my cup of tea; but it might be helpful to try another one to try and figure out why, and to see the possibilities.

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