Welcome to Nashville Writers House, and my very first blog. ‘Kay, the universe does not need another blog on writing. I am cross-eyed and flat-lined from too much info-intake, just reading what’s out there. This will be different. Jaded is jaundiced, vulnerable is valiant — so un-cross your eyes and read on as I write-on — personal, pithy, funny, fearless and, I hope insightful. After decades as a successful working writer, I write this from both a practical and philosophical viewpoint; sharing success as well as failure. I hope that my honesty will sometimes makes you laugh, at other times might provide some practical short-cuts on the long road (meaning: feel free to learn from my mistakes), illumine your creative light, touch you viscerally, motivate, inspire… as other writers have and continue to inspire me.
Here’s the thing: It takes a village to raise a writer.
I was filling out this online dating profile, and described myself as “the love child of Tennessee Williams and Mel Brooks”. In wishful-thinking land. Not many men got this. Not surprising. I figure I’m going for quirky quality, not quantity. Anyway, that might explain why I juxtaposed quotes from the following two genius writers:
“The only thing that stands between you and greatness is you… it helps if there is also a parade of people who agree with you.”
“Writers – Few things are more painful than stories we were meant to birth, never born. Or born, and never nurtured to life. The voices of our ancestors push us forward from the past, the community we choose lifts us, urges us forward in the present, and together we are gifted to create the future. You write alone, but not alone. For like a child, it takes a village to raise a writer.”
It is a human need to belong, to feel “known”, to be a part of something larger than ourselves. Yet creative writing is almost always a solitary pursuit. We look inward and if we are brave, mine our most vulnerable places for bits of gold only we see, only we have lived. Day after week after year, mining and sifting words that become stories, uniquely ours, because we were blessed with the gift of writing.
It is a gift, a profound one. Someone much brighter than me said “Writing is a gift from God. What you do with it is your gift back to God.” You can fill in “Higher Power” or “Weird Trolls in my Backyard that Transmit Signals and Don’t Tell Me You Don’t Hear Them” – that’s not really the point. The “gift bestowed we did nothing to earn, from something much bigger than us” is the point.
Everyone is born with a gift – some harder to discover than others. Your gift, your superpower, is being a writer. That your spouse doesn’t believe, your parents discouraged you, you haven’t used your superpower or you’ve gotten so many rejection letters that it feels more like a curse than a blessing… changes nothing. Your gift doesn’t go away just because you let it go dormant. So now Stop. Listen to the still, silent voice inside of you. That is where the truth lies. You are writer.
It will take all your talent, passion, commitment to fulfill your destiny – probably more than you can begin to imagine. You may be fortunate enough to have friends and family who support you. But writers need another kind of “village” — a village of writers, led by a mentor or mentors of both honesty and positivity, who you come to know and trust as they come to know and trust you.
Holly Robinson, a best-selling novelist, wrote in “The Huffington Post” about rejection by writing “villages”… one group told her they didn’t accept “amateurs”. A “mentor” said she had the depth of a TV commercial. Eventually she found her group, led by a knowledgeable, giving mentor who came from positivity and took the time to really know her. Holly remained with that group for years. Holly’s advice: “Keep looking until you find your community, then become part of growing it.” Her “village” was her safety net when she was rejected, or doubted herself, her cheerleaders when she succeeded. They kept her going with deadlines and critiques when she couldn’t keep going on her own, because she trusted the group and the mentor.
I’ll be sharing stories of my own journey, rejections, all that. The writers world, like every other world, contains both amazing souls and vile haters, narcissists and elitists. It’s so easy – and soul shattering – to internalize their poison. So here’s what I suggest you say to them: “Buh-bye.”
NASHVILLE WRITERS HOUSE is a place of positivity for all writers. Every writer is known, appreciated, supported on their unique creative journey, mentored based on the needs of the writer, not the ego of the mentor.
I went through a bruising, life-changing five years and coming out of that, I confess, I wanted a place to belong, to feel known, to be supported by a village of writers whom I could also support and mentor. I remember the wonderful people who mentored – and continue to mentor me – along the way. I pay this forward with gratitude, passion, and a love for being some small part in the growth of other writer’s work.
Come to a free workshop, sign up for an Intensive. Say “yes” instead of “maybe” or “later” or “I’m too scared”. Your vulnerability is a badge of bravery. Time passes, we get older, our gift lies dormant, and still — the only thing that stands between us and greatness is — us.
Join us at Nashville Writers House. Welcome Home.