by Windy Lynn Harris
I haven’t seen the invisible entity swirling near my keyboard, but she calls me Writer without smirking and it reminds me that I really do this writing thing. I really do put words and sentences together, create stories and books and other odd pieces. She’s near me when I create. That’s all I know. I swear she’s here next to me right now.
Maybe you hear her too, when you think about writing something new. You know the feeling: You have a tingle of an idea. Somehow you get the courage to sit down and explore it a bit on the page. I like to think you’ve heard her invitation at moments like that, that she helped set you in your chair and rubbed the tension out of your shoulders. I like to think she whispers to all of us writers in individual ways, speaking in whatever language we tap into when we stretch our ear to the universe and quiet our minds. Dear Writer, she says. Always Dear.
Dear Writer: Good morning. Sleep well? Feel like stretching? Good. Stretch. Grab something healthy to eat and meet me near your laptop. Exercise first? Sure. Do the jumping jacks and walk the dog and pop in that dusty yoga video for a view. Do it all. Then come here. I want to talk to you.
Dear Writer: Hey there. Thanks for stopping by. Have a seat. Here’s a pen. And paper. And sunlight. And space.
Dear Writer: You like the keyboard. I like the keyboard, too. Let’s open a new document. I like the click-click-click of a good long sentence on a blank page. Let’s try one. Any sentence will do.
Dear Writer: It’s just a pretend piece of paper on a computer screen. Don’t be afraid to make a mistake. Mistakes are good when you’re an artist.
Dear Writer: Sure, you should go to the bathroom first. And yes to that glass of water.
Dear Writer: I’m glad you’re back. Scribble in a notebook to get the ideas flowing? Good plan. Wanna make a word bubble? You love word bubbles.
Dear Writer: You smile when you type, did you know that?
Dear Writer: I like your words. You’ve nearly got a whole paragraph of them now and I’m starting to see where this story is headed. You began by writing about a camping trip to Leavenworth, but the car ride was so interesting that you stayed there. A flat tire now? Oooh. That’s good.
Dear Writer: Why are you stopping? You can’t be hungry yet. You are? Are you sure?
Dear Writer: Did you have a nice lunch? Good. I like pizza, too. No need to scroll up. Don’t bother reading what you wrote this morning. Keep moving ahead. Forward motion. You’ve got this.
Dear Writer: Your story makes me feel nervous. That’s a good sign. A very good sign. Keep typing. I’m worried about that woman and the tire and the sun going down before she’s rescued.
Dear Writer: Stop pressing the Delete button! You can’t judge this yet. Follow the story. Enjoy the flow of words. See where it leads you. Trust yourself to find your way to the end.
Dear Writer: This whole story is coming together now. Can you see it? The abandoned car and the bear and the flashback to Smokey the Bear commercials on TV. You’ve compared the fallen trees to your mother’s stubbed cigarettes? Oh yes. I see the connection now.
Dear Writer: I don’t know how it should end either. Sure, go walk the block a few times. Clear your head, but come back. We still have work to do. I’ll wait here. For you.
She’ll wait for me. She always does. And if I fail to return today she’ll be at my side when I wake up tomorrow. I’ve asked her about the rest of you and she said she’s there by your side too, nudging you along when she can. Look to your left. Yes, that’s her. She’s there to help you get started, or keep you going when you feel stuck. She’s there to loosen the strain in your muscles, and keep you company while your sentences hit the page. You can’t see her? Me either. That’s okay. Tip your head, Writer. You’ll hear her voice.
Windy is launching her book, Writing & Selling Short Stories & Personal Essays, this week. Leave a comment by September 25th on this post and Windy will send one lucky winner her book.
Short stories and personal essays have never been hotter–or more crucial for a successful writing career. Earning bylines in magazines and literary journals is a terrific way to get noticed and earn future opportunities in both short- and long-form writing. Writing & Selling Short Stories & Personal Essays capitalizes on the popularity of short creative work by instructing on the two key steps to publishing short works: crafting excellent pieces and successfully submitting them. Featuring advice and examples from a multitude of published authors, Writing & Selling Short Stories & Personal Essays is a must-have for any writer’s bookshelf.
Image: “Vintage Typewriter” by Memphis CVB via Flickr.
Loved it, Wendy, and yes, I feel her presence too!
Hi Tom! I’m so glad you feel her presence, too. We need encouragement as much as any other group of artists, right? Wishing you many creative pages today!
Windy, I have a few voices that speak to me as I write. I recently named them – Voddy is my Voice of Doubt. She can be a bitch. VERonica is my Voice of Reason – encouraging my writing but making sure I take care of myself. As I read your wonderful piece, I realized I hadn’t named my Voice of Inspiration. So here’s her debut: Voila. Thanks for the inspiration!
I KNEW I wasn’t the only one hearing voices, Karen ;). I love the name Voila! How perfect. Voddy visits me too, on occasion, and VERonica–she doesn’t get invited often enough. Thank you for sharing your cast of characters today!
I’ve heard so many of those things. My misty friend has been quiet lately, but I have a feeling she will be waking up with the fall.
Thank you, Windy, for a great article.
Hi Rita! Wake her up, my friend. You’ve got so many wonderful things to write 🙂
Hugs to you!
Windy, you have come a long way since those early days at the Phoenix Writers Club! Congratulations. May your book launch be a great success.
Thank you, Doris! I recently came across a file from 2009 where I had notes from a talk I gave at PWC–and it was pretty much exactly what this book is about. Haha! Thank you for the support and enthusiasm all these years. 🙂
Hi Windy: Loved this essay. Yes he is here. For me he comes just as I wake. He is my spirit guide and his name is Bob. How common. He has been guiding me all my life. Just wondered why it took so long to figure that out. He will give me the story I am to write this week. Love your book. Not far into it yet but I can see it is an invaluable addition to my library. Way to go. Kent
Thank you for your kind words. I’m so glad you’ve got Bob at your side! He’s doing a fantastic job. You’re incredibly prolific. Keep up the great work, Kent. And Bob! 🙂
Thanks for reminder, Windy.I will not ignore her and follow her nudges and commands most of the days:)
Hi Sara :). Let those words flow at your desk, writer! She and I and the rest of the world out there are rooting for you!
Wishing you many creative pages, Zia!
Loved this piece. I’ve never named her. Probably because I would have to sit down and listen to her instead of always getting sidetracked. When you are retired, you think you always have plenty of time to sit down and write, maybe after I get this errand or chore done. So I have decided to name her Windy because you always make me want to write, maybe after I read your book.
I’m honored, Barbara! Hahahaha! You can always count on me to nudge you to the page. I’m cheering for your success, my friend 🙂