My Love Affair with Writing

Joanna Young at Confident Writing has challenged us to write about My Love Affair with Writing. She said:

It might be a love affair that’s lasted many years, a brief flame of passion or the heartbreak of unrequited love.

My love affair with writing began nearly a half century ago, but it’s been an on-again, off-again affair.

It started in high school, perhaps my junior or senior year. The high school I attended in a small, rural community had one English teacher for all four grades. She gave our class an assignment to write a short story. My story was a humorous account of a girl trying to introduce her date to her family. I had five siblings, and getting all of them plus my parents (especially my father who was usually working somewhere on the farm) together in one place was a challenge. In my short story, the girl would get a family member or two into the living room, and one of them would disappear before she could find the next one. Eventually the date disappeared …

It doesn’t sound very funny now, but the teacher raved about it when she returned my paper with a great big A+ on the top. Then she asked my permission to read the story to every English class. I don’t recall any compliments or comments from other students, but I do remember the students in my class laughing in all the right places when the teacher read the story. At that moment, I felt like a real writer.

I never considered writing as a career. In college, I majored in sociology and minored in psychology. I didn’t write any fiction, but I wrote a lot of research papers. I also wrote a lot of letters to my future husband as well as to my family.

The first poem I ever wrote – and one of only a handful – was to my future husband on the occasion of our engagement. That poem is handwritten on a card stock picture frame beside my photo used in the engagement announcement in the newspaper, and the photo with the poem, now in fading ink, sits on the headboard of our bed to this day.

For the first few years after college and marriage, I don’t remember doing any writing. After I opened my interior landscape company, I wrote a lot of business proposals that generated sales for my business. I also wrote a few articles for national trade journals; those were inspired by both my love of writing and a desire to build my reputation in the industry.

Journaling has been part of my life through the years – sometimes every day, other times there have been long periods when I didn’t journal.

Throughout my life, I always dreamed of writing “someday.” Then at age 45, I suffered a stroke as a result of a chiropractic manipulation. I knew then that “someday” had arrived. It took a couple of years for me to recover sufficiently to be able to sit at a computer to type, but as soon as I could I started my first novel. Like many first novels, a lot of it was autobiographical about my stroke experience, but I wrote it as a romance. I had been married to my own romantic hero for nearly 25 years at the time and wondered how someone without the kind of support I had could overcome the challenge of a stroke.

I joined writers organizations, attended workshops and seminars, participated in a critique group, wrote three novels, and started another novel in the next few years.

When my first novel was accepted by a publisher after many rejections, I was so excited I didn’t even look at any other books from that publisher (different from my current publisher). When I did start reading, the errors in the books appalled me. I contacted my editor and pointed out the number of mistakes. Fortunately, instead of being offended, she appreciated my interest. She said they were a new company, and they realized their first few books were poorly edited … and she offered me a job editing them!

That experience made me realize I love editing even more than writing. I haven’t written anything new – except journal entries, articles for my church newsletter, and blog posts – for several years. My second novel is scheduled for publication as soon as the publishers are healthy again (the small press is run by a husband and wife and both have had health problems recently). I’m thrilled that it will finally be published, but my greatest joy is helping other writers bring their own books to fruition.

A large part of my freelance business involves work for business clients: proposals, industry articles, resumes, brochures, and manuals. My favorite job, though, is working with authors to prepare their manuscripts for publication. A couple of my clients are submitting their work to major publishers, but most self-publish.

I like to work with my author clients from the beginning of their project, but usually I get involved when they have a completed manuscript. Most of my clients are better storytellers or subject matter experts than writers, and I love to help make their stories and information better. I make their work sound like them … only better. I edit the work, often doing major revisions (like removing the first four chapters of a novel and incorporating the back story that was pertinent into the book where it was needed).

In addition to editing, I offer a wide range of other services: formatting the manuscript for printing, hiring a cover designer and coordinating between the author and the designer, negotiating with a printer, soliciting quotes, writing the back cover blurb, designing and maintaining the author’s Web site and editing the blog, and creating and distributing press releases and other promotional materials.

I’ve called myself a book midwife – helping the author to birth his/her book. Maybe I’m more of an author’s assistant – or the author’s right hand.

My love affair with writing has had many twists and turns, but the passion is still as strong as the day it began, way back in high school when my words first got a positive reaction from my teacher.

Share this!