I call myself a writer of real-life adventures and everyday life. I’ve also called myself a female John-Boy. For those of you too young to remember The Waltons, John-Boy was the main character in the popular television show that aired for ten years beginning in 1971. Each episode began with an older John-Boy narrating, setting the stage for the episode reflecting back on a time in his life growing up on Walton’s Mountain in the 1930s. I absolutely loved the show and cried many times while watching.
WHY I WRITE:
So why do I write, or cathart, as someone recently accused me? (Well, cathart didn’t pass spellcheck; but I knew what the person meant, so we’ll go with it.)
I don’t want to give away the preface of my next book so will avoid explaining all of the details of when I first realized I wanted to write, but it was about twenty-five years ago. After attending a festival, an unction – a turning in my belly – surfaced and never went away. I wanted to write a book. I daydreamed about it for almost twenty years before I held my first book, Reflections. I did not have the concept for Reflections during those twenty years. I wasn’t sure what my first book would be about, but the compulsion never went away.
Then after a life-changing event, the concept came. And one weekend while driving out of town with my friend Cindy to attend a Mom’s weekend with our sons in college, I confided in her that my first book would be about people in my life, that each chapter would be titled with the person’s name. It would be a time to remember the good things in people. It was a couple of more years before I was able to finish the small book of vignettes; but at that moment, I had the concept and knew someday my dream would be a reality.
I said I would NEVER blog, but after attending a writing seminar in 2010, I started a blog as encouraged by the sponsor and other attendees of the writing workshop. They advised, “Just write about what’s going on in your life.” The thought of exposing my thoughts and feelings on a regular basis seemed way out there for someone who is much more an introvert than an extrovert. However, it got easier over time and I doubted too many people would find or read my material, so I wrote on.
I didn’t (and don’t) always write perfectly. I tend to write in a passive voice and sometimes I misspell words that I have to correct later (or not) even though I reread over and over again. That’s why we have editors. Although I dreamed (and still do) of being able to write as an occupation, to make a living at it, in reality it is more of a hobby and a passion of writing from my heart. But the dream still lives.
ENCOURAGEMENT & CRITICISM:
People who have read my books and blogs have been kind with their comments, family members and friends are encouraging, and my mother says everything I write is beautiful. 🙂
Soon after Reflections was published in 2011, I was invited to participate in a local writers’ group. We shared pieces of our work and received feedback from each other. Although the critiques were not always pleasant, I learned to listen to what the other writers said and implemented some of their suggestions. We each had different styles and strengths, and I thank Marty and Erika for their time and encouragement in pushing me to be a better writer. It was during these years that I had a few stories published in national magazines, and I give much of that credit to them. I am grateful to still see these ladies from time to time.
Last month, author Kristin Horvath came across one of my magazine stories and sent me a word of encouragement which came at a much-needed time. And then, within a week’s time, I was caught off guard by a negative email. I have never received a negative comment on a blog or in a book review, neither have I ever received a scathing message in my author email account. Well, I guess there’s a first for everything. The individual pointed out what was perceived as errors in my writing, was condescending throughout the message, attacked the very core purpose of Reflections, and then focused in on a few personal threats if I wrote “such and such.”
I had to deal with it, not by responding but by accepting that not everyone is going to like what I have to say. It has not been an easy task. Everyone is entitled to an opinion and to express that opinion if so inclined. I was inclined to defend but chose not to retaliate, not because I’m a better person. I simply decided to leave the person with their opinion and thoughts. But I had to make a decision for me as a writer.
Do I stop writing because of someone’s negativity?
Do I stop doing the thing I have been compelled to do for twenty-five years just when I see a bit of success?
Do I let someone squelch my dream?
Do I let one negative email trump or stay all of the positive, encouraging remarks?
I think not.
As my cousin Jeanne might say: “WRITE ON!!”
I think I will, and I think I just wrote the last chapter in my next book.
I think I need to buy you a new sweatshirt with bold lettering – Write On!
Debra Irene says
I think I would wear it Mary. Thank you!
Debbie: Thanks for giving me and my memoir five island diaries a nod in this post. Yes, we met with our own little writer’s group for a year or so; it was productive and fun. Mutually supportive relationships can be cemented when you work together as we did.
About the person who criticized your work–forget about it! There will always be someone who can erode your confidence. But that voice is a mere whisper in the crowd. Don’t let it be an echo.
So, yeah. Write on!
Debra Irene says
Thank you, Marty. Look forward to seeing you soon! https://www.amazon.com/Five-Island-Diaries-Stories-Found/dp/0972911499/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1508681222&sr=1-2&keywords=martha+McCarty