I’ve been in a bit of a writing slump lately...um, what else is new? SO, when my online buddy, Connie McLeod mentioned she was participating in a little writing exercise/blog roll that documented writers’ creative processes, my first reaction was...”what PROCESS?!?” And then I decided that this would be just the kick in the booty that I needed to put it all out there on virtual “paper” and get my creative juices flowing again. At the least, it will get me out of the kitchen and away from the snacks that are calling my name.
WHY DO I WRITE WHAT I DO?
I have had an urge to share my thoughts and ideas with others since the day I stood inside a Brooklyn phone booth at the age of 8, and not wanting anyone else to hear me, called Random House Publishing Company to ask if they would take a look at a book I had written. I haven’t a clue what happened to that book, but I remember the thrill I got when the person on the other end said, “yes,” she would be happy to read what I wrote. Knowing someone is reading my work, hopefully enjoying it, and hopefully taking something away from it keeps me going back for more.
The short story was primarily my genre in college, where creative writing was my minor. I never considered myself to have a long enough attention span to write a War and Peace or even Son of War and Peace. My muse was the sound bite queen and...and my writing is just like me...short and “sweet.”
My mother, a lovely woman, but a narcissist nevertheless, would often ask, “Why don’t you write something about me?” I would scoff at her, but recently, I gave up the fiction and took on the real nuts and bolts of my life--I became a memoirist. (Talk about being a narcissist, who would ever want to read about the things going on in MY life?) So here I am, loving the advice of Marion Roach Smith and the work of memoirists such as Laurie Colwin and Calvin Trillin, hoping my writing can come within even one iota’s reach of theirs. And my mom, she’s my favorite subject!
WHAT AM I WORKING ON?
Not much. I have a few articles in the hopper, and a few in my head that have yet to be brought out. I will be writing a review of a Beauty Book for 50+ women soon, and until then I will continue to create the pithy Tweets and Facebook posts that I write for Betterafter50.com, where I am the Social Media Manager.
HOW DOES MY WORK DIFFER FROM OTHERS OF ITS GENRE?
I admire the writers I know who can read an article in the New York Times and then sit down and write a critique or response. I leave that arena of writing to them because that is just NOT me. I am not a very deep thinker or politically minded, nor am I a rabble-rouser. (Although I have been known to write some pretty heated letters to the editor of our local newspaper when I felt my kids, or someone’s kids were not being treated fairly.)
I am a former pastry chef, so I love to write about anything that has to do with food, and the memories that foods evoke. I think I write for the everyman/woman. I like to think of myself as the “Bruce Springsteen of the short memoir writers whose parents were Holocaust survivors.” People can relate to what I write about--childhood, marriage, parenting, midlife angst--I don’t hold much back, but just enough for people to insinuate their own life story into my own life story. Just enough for them to be able to see themselves in my tales, and say, “Yeah, I remember that too.” A touch of humor, a touch of sarcasm, and having the “most” unique parents about whom to write probably sets me apart from others.
HOW DOES YOUR WRITING PROCESS WORK?
If you were paying attention, you will remember that I said I had no process. And I meant it. An idea might come to me at the most inopportune time--at the gym, in the shower, coming out of the ER after I had just spent the day there thinking I was having a heart attack. I mull over the theme and let it “sit” for a while.
What might not be the most realistic way of writing, but most often works for me, is that I write part of the article in my head--mostly the bullet points. I think about it, again, in the shower or while I am running at the gym and after I’ve thought enough, I then write it down. No outline, no ”word web,” just free writing. And then I edit, and edit, and edit, and edit. Until I think I like what I see and feel comfortable with sending it out to the masses.
If I am writing a serious piece that requires facts, numbers, statistics, and quotes, I do the research. But I was never a big fan of writing term papers, and writing of that ilk comes a little too close to what I generally stayed up all hours of the night stressing over during college.
And now I turn the gavel over to a wonderful writer and one of the kindest and genuine people I know, Cathy Chester. Cathy’s lifelong passion has always been writing, but it was put on hold until her son was a junior in high school. It was then that she finally listened to her inner voice telling her to get back to writing. She decided to go back to school to earn a certificate in patient advocacy, and combined that with her blog, An Empowered Spirit, where she pays it forward to her beloved disability community. She also writes about living a vibrant and healthy life during midlife, animal rights, social good and the joy of living. She is a Contributor to The Huffington Post (Post50/Impact/Disability Travel), and blogs for MultipleSclerosis.net, Manilla.com and Boomeon.com. She was recently named one of the "Top Ten Social HealthMakers in Multiple Sclerosis" by ShareCare, a new platform created by Dr. Mehmet Oz. Her work has appeared on BlogHer, Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop, The Friendship Blog, and other online magazines.