|Marie James writes what she wants!|
How many people have told you what you should write?
For most of us, it started back in elementary school. Did you write weekend stories? They were produced on paper with lines for writing what you did on the weekend and a big blank space for a crayon drawing. I actually liked writing weekend stories, but there was never enough space for everything I wanted to say. I often put more words in the picture space.
In upper grades, writing assignments included research papers, essays, and topical themes. As a member of the high school newspaper staff, I was assigned articles on various subjects. College writing classes included more assignments, often urging me to explore new techniques and genres.
I value the broad spectrum of writing experiences and exposure. But see the pattern? We were often told what to write during all our school years. Some of us also wrote on our own, choosing our methods and topics. As a teenaged girl, I wrote lots of introspective poetry inspired by my churning emotions and questions about life.
Though I loved writing, I pursued a different vocational path and prepared to become a teacher. But I always wanted to write…and I did write—a lot. I journaled for my eyes only. I served as secretary of countless organizations, writing minutes and communications. I wrote newsletter articles for church, school, and community organizations.
Finding a new direction
Some years later, I decided I'd like to have "something" published by a real publisher. I told just a few people—family members and close friends. I was thinking of a nonfiction magazine article.
At that point, I experienced a bit of schooldays déjà vu, because I started getting "assignments" again.
A few longtime friends thought I "should" write a book of poetry. Never mind that I hadn't written poetry since junior high, with the exception of required class assignments.
Someone else said I'd "have to" become comfortable writing foul language and sex scenes because that's the basis of best-selling novels. Never mind that I don't write fiction—and I'd never even thought of attempting a best-seller.
I did reach my goal of having "something" published. No, there's not a book of poetry or best-selling novel bearing my byline. Instead, I've published magazine articles—some on assignment and some submitted after speculative queries. A few anthology stories and a ghost-written book have left my desk and ended up in published form.
But I have also gotten great joy from documenting my parents' and grandparents' life histories just for our family. I really like creating newsletters and other publications for small organizations. Need a press release for a community event? I'm on it. Even technical writing like updating office procedures manuals has been fulfilling.
Following the process
In my home office, both paper files and my computer document files attest to the fact that I often write furiously to some point just short of completion, reach a point of satisfaction, and move on to the next topic on my heart.
Obviously, I don't always write complete manuscripts. Sometimes I write just to clear ideas from my brain and make room for more, and publishing is the farthest thing from my mind.
The bottom line is, I write because I love to write. And for the most part, I write what I want to write.
How about you?
Are you writing what you really want to write? Are you unwrapping whatever thoughts and ideas are bursting from your heart? Are you creating in the genre and style that flow naturally from your fingers?
Are you writing for the reasons you want to write? Are you reaching the readers you hoped to reach? Are you moving toward your goals of first publication or becoming well-known or just getting the message out there?
For me the greatest joy in writing is truly in the journey. And for a writer, that journey begins in the heart.
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