Go Ahead Writer

                                                          Dear Writer,

“Happiness for me, or I suspect any writer, is plenty of paper and plenty of pens. Isn’t that such a simple concept?

Yet, for a writer, anyone who measures their calling as a heartbeat, a desire, a burning or ringing, whose only way to turn it down, drown it out, is to pick up that pen, open up and power on their laptop and squelch the burn with the begin to the begin.

The paradox is wrapped up with passion is its ugly companion fear. This fear keeps us locked in between these two worlds, trapped in the invisible walls of one who can see, hear and feel this call, whose words echo and pulse shoots in our veins, and the mysterious fear that lives alongside our ideas, our need to tell the stories we’ve fabricated or poems we’ve written or stories we have lived or studied. It is living between these two worlds – of regret, fear, rejection, self-doubt – that we know what reliance on self can do. It can literally kill brilliant stories before they’ve begun.

And worse, reliance on those around us, if we listen to them, could stomp out the most brilliant in all of literature. For our modern day Shakespeare equivalents are being born as we speak, they are in school, or in retirement, considering writing that crucial story that will serve as a model in future English courses decades down the road. The truth is that we must not listen to the world around us and all their opinions and reasons for why we mustn’t write.

The absolute truth is we owe it to ourselves and those in our community and our generation and those beyond, to keep the story going; to tell the accounts of our soldiers, our mothers, our lovers, whatever is inside us; to preserve, pontificate, project, propel us forwards with that tiny voice inside that says do it, rather than cave and halt, conceding to the many more that say don’t.

Who am I to tell this story I have? Why me? I haven’t got an English degree. When I posed this question to my friend – with an MFA in painting – she said “so what, you think I have a degree in graphic design? And yet, here I am doing it!”

It doesn’t require a degree. You needn’t have read a thousand books. The worst read member of our writers group writes some of the best stories. If it’s in you, it’s in you. Pick up the pen and let the story unfold. Power on your laptop and show up to the adventure.

There will be hours, days of rough spots when doubt will creep in. ‘They were right, this is a horrible idea!’ Then you’ll have glorious sprints, spurts of six thousand word days where you’ll feel more alive than when you had your first kiss or felt your heart thump in love.

Welcome, writer. The world is waiting for you. You needn’t be rid of fear – I don’t think it goes away for any of us. Don’t let your fear sweep you out to sea forever. Plant your feet deeply in the sand and stake your claim.

Get going, tell us. Even if it takes you a decade, ten minutes a day. Everyone has ten minutes a day.”

-Wendy K. Williamson


18 thoughts on “Go Ahead Writer

  1. Absolutely brilliant. Tweeted and Facebooked it.

    We all have ten minutes a day, yes we do, but what I love the most about this post is that you give us profound permission to pursue our writing dreams. I’ve never read any writing expert who inspires me to write the way you do, and I’ve read a ton of how-to books: Lamott, Lara, Goldberg, etc. etc. etc.

    While I do have an English degree & I’m damn proud of it because it’s a miracle I earned that $*^(&(^(*&(, I know it doesn’t matter at all when it comes to whether or not I can call myself a writer. I started writing my first book at age seven. That, to me, is more of a sign that I am a writer than any English degree I could earn in the world.

    During my Tahoe trip I read in a memoir how-to book that if one has an unfinished draft sitting around (ahem!) it festers until one completes it to the “shitty draft” stage. Ewwwwwwwwww – “fester” is the perfect word to describe how I feel. Call me “Aunt Fester”…..not! The festering is bugging me every day. I have no choice but to finish the book even if Lucy is the only one who chews on the print-out.

    On a brighter note, you help me to no end, Mentor Wendy. I’m not going to take a decade to finish my first draft, that’s for sure.

    Thank you for an incredible post that should be shared with every writer on this planet. Put this post in the next book!!!! 😉

    • Proud to be your mentor, we all need one and I sure have a few. Ten minutes a day… as John Grisham says (one of my modern-day faves) to paraphrase ‘if you write a page a day, in a year you’ll have a book.’ So true….now about the editing. Grr… that’s what gives you gray hairs! But there’s no reason why you can’t write an edit a book in a year. I did it twice. But the memoir…ah… that is a beast. You have one life to write about and it is precious and difficult and tied to emotion that no other book you write will be. And you’ve got one chance to make your mark on the world with it and to, hopefully, make a difference. Memoirs that make a difference are a tall order as you’re finding. But yes, writing at a young age, I agree Dyane is such a strong indicator. I’m still jealous you majored in it, as did my close friend. Still, the signs are there. I truly believe what we do and love when we’re young is what we’re meant to do. They’ve asked Bruce Springsteen in interviews how he knew what to do in life and he said (paraphrase) something like ‘I know what made me happy when I was young and I always stayed close to that.’ Now, that could be the world’s worse paraphrase, but it was young, happy and those are the two essential elements. And p.s. we have the same mechanic and I used that and another ancedote our mechanic told me when I was wanting to quit. It’s funny, you never know, et hem Dyane, where your inspiration where come from. it might not be from your mentor, it could be from your mechanic! ha! Or your child…. or your postman. You never know. Or your father who you miss dearly that sends you a sign… 🙂 love ya xo

      • Wendy, thank you for your fabulous wise ‘n funny reply to my comment…..I REALLY want to hear about that other anecdote that your mechanic told you when you wanted to quit!!!!!

        Also, I tweeted this link, and I don’t know if you noticed that my friend the writer L.E. Henderson RT’d it, and she got lots of retweets! (She has heaps of followers…..) Plus, my MOM emailed me that loved your article too!!!!!!! (She’a a lurker) Can you publish this elsewhere? Is there an apt category on HuffPo? It would get tons of interest, I know it!!!!

        Anyway, I’m sending you my love and hugs for your stedfast support.
        I’m so glad you’re in my life…..an understatement of the decade!


  2. Reblogged this on Birth of a New Brain and commented:
    Wendy K. Williamson is my writing mentor and she’s the author of the bestselling book “I’m Not Crazy Just Bipolar”. She co-authored the acclaimed “Two Bipolar Chicks Guide to Survival” with Honora Rose. Wendy has been a keynote speaker at national conferences, she has made media appearances galore, and she’s co-founder of the Red Bank Writers Group. She has an incredible writing voice that speaks to me in a profound way. And thank God the lass has a fabulous sense of humor. Read her brief post for some awesome inspiration if you’re a frustrated writer….I, of course, know nothing about that! 😉

    • Hey, don’t know if it’s appropriate to jump in here but congratulations. Your announcement and your prior blog about the bipolar relapse (boy have I been there…I’ve had 10 antidepressants ‘poopout’ on me…) I’m pulling through and your news warmed the cockles of my heart. I just got a copy of Sherry goes Sane from Portland Oregon. See what she has to say! Wendy’s first book is on the way. Dyane I can’t wait to read your book and I am so glad you showed ‘persistence’ (sp) bipolarbrainiac aka Allison Strong

      • Of course it’s fine to jump in, Allison! Your comment is awesome, although my heart aches upon reading about how 10 antidepressants pooped out on you – one poopout is bad enough, isn’t it? I’ll check out “Sherry Goes Sane” (I like that title!) and as far as Wendy’s book goes, it’s a gem and it’s one of the best memoirs out there. Looking forward to getting to know you through your blog….thanks for such kind words. Your comment brightened up my afternoon. (((hugs))) from a fellow Wendy fan (and soon-to-be Allison fan), Dyane 🙂

  3. Reblogged this on marshastephenson and commented:
    Often times so many writers, myself included, feel that we are not equipped to write. As I was told my Daphne Tarrango, President of Lakeland Christian Writers, if God placed it on your heart to write, you are a writer. Daphne has written 4 books and I was fortunate to write 3 devotionals in Groove; Stories to Refresh the Way We Think and Feel About Our Mental Illnesses. God does not call the equipped, he equips the called. This is an excellent blog post.

  4. Wendy,
    I am reading your book about I’m bipolar, not crazy. I was amazed to find something like this. I had actually contemplated something very similar. There are a few elements that I have not seen. I was wondering if u had experienced the same issues. I’m not comfortable discussing them here, bit I am eager to know.

    • I’m thrilled you stumbled on my book – thank you. And you should write your story — why not? Begin jotting down your ideas if you are in a good place, I say.
      Also, as to your other comment, there is no answer to why. I wasted an entire summer with survivor’s guilt asking that same question. Truthfully, I think it is revealed to us and we can only understand it further down the road. Life your life, tell your truth and I believe we’ll all understand someday. 🙂 Hope that helps. You’ve just got to, we’ve all just got to, stay alive to figure that mystery out. That’s the key, stay alive, keep fighting and move towards, in a logical fashion, what you want to do in life.

      • I ordered my own copy of your first book. I checked the first out of the library, which doesn’t connect with self pub. But now, I have my own copy coming. Authorhouse better see what’s coming down the pike. A woman whose time has come. Or whatever that saying is. bipolarbrainiac aka Allison strong oh ps when I was little I wanted to be an FM disc jockey. But I never thought it could happen. I was a voracious reader, often read adult books as a child. Then I wanted to be an actor so when I got my SAG Card I went to LA. But during the DJ years, I got columns, (sp) so I did my fair share of writing. When Melody Maker UK (now defunct) published me, I was flummoxed. Automation and ownership deregulation downsized about 85% of the live disc jockey jobs and music decisions are more centralized now, so no need for music directors. So what do I do now? Think positive. At least half the time I’ll be using my imagination!

  5. Wendy,
    I’m pretty certain I am posting in the wrong place, but I will say I have struggled with an answer as to why I am still here after 2 near death experiences. I believe there is something I should b doing. There is a purpose. Have u ever felt that way? I cannot explain or figure this out. When I saw your book I was overjoyed that someone did what I have felt compelled to do. Maybe you can share an answer to my question. What I am I here to do?

  6. Hi Shannon, I think I posted my reply to someone else, not to you? (I do these from my phone at times and get in to problems this way!) There are deep periods of life, both mine and those I have heard of others, where we contemplate our purpose. I certainly am no guru but I know I was saved from suicides for a purpose. It was revealed to me slowly that I was meant to be an author. I think the longer you stick around, the more it will make sense and be revealed to you. I definitely know how you feel, and felt this way for a long,long time, especially surrounding my attempts. Maybe you should write since you have felt compelled to do it too. Perhaps that is one of your missions, perhaps not. All I know is joining a writers group helped (then I started one when trekking to that was too far.) Check out meetup.com for groups close to you. I found them to be very safe and inspirational when i needed a push.
    My next advice is to start writing…just let her rip. When i get stuck, i pull out a pen and paper. in fact, I do this nearly every morning to clear out the cobwebs, so to speak and I frequently get guidance on the book I’m working on, etc.
    Good luck to you.

    Keep searching…start writing?

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