Creative Writing, Writing, Writing Inspiration, Writing Process

A Writer’s Life

So, that’s me up there in the center circle!

For years, I’ve written flash fiction, short stories and novels. Sometimes they are published and most times they are not.

But, I celebrate the wins along the writing way. I’m a finalist for SheWrites Press and SparkPress fourth annual contest. There will be two winners: One for the Adult category and one for the Young Adult (YA) category. My submission is for the YA. We’ll find out soon and I’ll post something either way.

Any writer who seeks publication knows how difficult the road to birthing an article, essay, short story or a novel can be. But like the ant going uphill, we persevere.

After twelve years of writing, shelving, and revising stories plus collecting books on the craft of writing, and participating in critique groups and writing organizations, I ask myself:

Just why do I write?

Many of my stories have an element of my life experiences and talking about them on paper is like a release. I have a need to write, to find out and process what I’m feeling or thinking. Sharing struggles is my means of supporting others by letting the reader know that they are not alone. Others have faced similar challenges and made it out alive.

I’m usually thinking and writing about what girls and women go through. Events from my past bounce around in my head and want out. More than a few times, I have a voice talking to me: “Remember when … ?” And then I remember and process the incident on paper.

The act of sharing my writing is scary sometimes. I wonder will I be judged, will someone think I’m writing about them, will someone get angry? But most of the time, I don’t care, because the act of writing is a release that I need. And for an introvert like me this sharing is a relationship with one reader.

Writing is an intimate act. It’s risky. But there’s something about the flow on words onto a white slate that invigorates a writer. Each page is a new creation.

I like the way I get lost in writing, how I go into a deep hole or a far away tangent and then reread my stuff and laugh. Or cry. Or erase.

Mostly, I write to highlight the experiences of love, loss, and other challenges of women and girls. I write to amplify their strength and resilience in the face of obstacles and dire circumstances.

I know I’ll keep writing whether I publish a novel or not. Because that is not the end game, but I can’t lie, it sure would be nice!

It is the deepest desire of every writer, the one we never admit or even dare to speak of: to write a book we can leave as a legacy. . . . If you do it right, and if they publish it, you may actually leave something behind that can last forever.”

Alice Hoffman


Writing for Change: Activism and Writing

“You write in order to change the world … if you alter, even by a millimeter, the way people look at reality, then you can change it.”-James Baldwin

“What do you want to change with your pen?” Florencia Ramirez asked when she opened her presentation, “Activism and Writing.”  This thought provoking statement had many audience members perk up.

“How many of you have an issue you carry in your heart where you would like to see change?” Most of us could quickly mention several topics:

  • Violence against women and children
  • Education
  • Race, gender, sexual equality
  • Environmental issues

Florencia writes about water scarcity issues on her blog Eat Less Water. She uses this phrase to explain the concept of conserving the natural resource through farming practices and grocery-buying habits. Water experts predict that by 2025, two-thirds of the world will be experiencing water scarcity.

It’s not an easy task to rivet an audience with information on water scarcity especially since research statistics can be boring and dry. We don’t want to be reminded of school when we read about any of these topics.

water scarcity
water scarcity

We want others to care about the issue and we want to get them to act (change).

So how did Florencia manage to speak and write about this issue  of water scarcity and get several people talking about taking shorter showers, using buckets to capture water, and committing to plant only low water plants? Florencia is doing this by translating her passion for the topic and through that passion she has the reader experience that enthusiasm so it becomes their very own.

Three Elements to Use:

  1. Accessibility: Nest your information in story, use interesting language, poetic devices, give the issue a ‘face.’
  2. Optimism: Focus on the positive when you write your story, make it a hopeful one.
  3. Creative non-fiction: use narrative and storytelling to make your point. Your writing then becomes the change agent for something bigger.

An example of all three elements are found in these two short excerpts from the book that Florencia says changed her life:

Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring.” The outcry that followed its publication forced the banning of DDT and spurred revolutionary changes in the laws affecting our air, land, and water. The author nested the technical language of chemical fallout and science with eloquent storytelling and poetic language. She writes:

“These sprays, dusts and aerosols still the song of birds and the leaping of fish in the streams, coats the leaves with a deadly film, and to linger on the soil-all this through the intended target of a few weeds or insects.”

“A Who’s Who of pesticides is therefore of concern to us all. If we are going to live so intimately with these chemicals eating and drinking them, taking them into the very marrow of our bones – we had better know something about their nature and their power.”

An excerpt from Florencia’s manuscript in progress, Eat Less Water:

“In black stenciled letters on the sky blue wall I painted the words, “I love you to the moon and back” in my baby daughter’s room. It was a quote from my favorite children’s book. It never failed that when I read this line aloud to my daughter my voice cracked with emotion and tears pushed their way free. Many years later, I read in a very different book, that women and children of South Africa walk the distance of the moon and back seventeen times each day for water. I thought about the words that had been in my daughters first room. I contemplated the little girls carrying heavy pots of water on their heads to the moon and back. Again the tears pushed their way free…”

Start with a story, give the issue a ‘face,’ and write with optimism. We need to hear your activism.

“Optimism brings with it hope, a future with a purpose and therefore, a will to fight for a better world.” Saul Alinsky